“The nurse who injected a child with HIV blood”: Media propaganda in Uganda

10 02 2014

You have probably seen or heard the story of “the nurse who injected a child with blood”. Yes? Well the nurse’s name is Namubiru. I saw this story on NTV Akawungeezi – the Luganda version at seven in the evening. See the video clip below.

My first reaction was irritation and deep inside I was wondering, how could a nurse who is over 50 (judging from her looks) be so heartless? At the same time I was reflecting on a post I wrote on the recent World AIDS Day – Are we “Getting to Zero”?: The HIV/AIDS blame game in Uganda.

This story really bothered me, the thought that a nurse could do such (to a child), made me sick in the stomach. Since then, I have followed the developments on this story. Once in a while I could catch a news byte to update myself on the case.

As I continued to follow the story I learned that there were actually two different narratives and both of them were victimizing the nurse. One said that “the nurse used the same syringe she had used on her self to give a child a shot yet she was aware that she is HIV positive” while the other said that “the nurse had injected the child with HIV positive blood”.

Mid last week I was listening to Sanyu FM’s news and the nurse’s case was mentioned again “the trial of the HIV positive nurse who injected a child with blood is set for Friday this week….. After the incident, the child was tested and found HIV positive yet the parents of the child are both HIV negative..”

The other day I met some people who are following this nurse’s case. They mentioned that they were from court and that the nurse had been denied bail. They asked whether I knew anything about that case.

I told them what I knew – basically the narrative that the media was spreading wildly; that the nurse injected a child with blood and infected her with HIV. Little did I know that this was far from the truth.

This is how I learned the other story, one that is not known to many. According to the people who have interacted with the nurse and the parents of the child, the nurse did not actually inject the child with blood.

What happened is that the child was on treatment and this nurse was supposed to administer a shot. Of course the nurse had a syringe in her hand. But we all know how much children fear pricking. So the child tried to resist and in the process the nurse pricked her (index) finger.

The mistake the nurse did is going ahead to use the syringe that had pricked her on the child – why she didn’t do this, you and I will probably never know but she (the nurse) insists that she didn’t have any ill intentions against the child.

The other thing I learned is, even though the nurse is HIV positive, apparently the child has been tested for HIV at least twice since the incident and she has tested negative on both occasions. If this is true, why does the Urban TV report – “Baby infected with HIV“?

What does this kind of reporting mean for the child in question. If the child is HIV negative, how will the narrative be reversed? Of course normally the media will rush into reporting without thinking about the damage this could cause to this child, her family or even the nurse who now seems to be a public enemy.

The media has succeeded in telling us just what we want to hear. Human nature is characterized with complaining, victimizing and well, hypocrisy; the media uses those same characteristics to tell us a story that we can identify with, a story that will win our hearts. The New Vision picture below shows a picture of the nurse, Namubiru looking terrified.terrified-Namubiru

Once the media has set the ground with all their propaganda, the nurse story becomes of no relevance, even if she tells her story, how many people will be interested in listening to it? And this is where the danger of a single story comes in.

In the end, media houses have nothing to lose. People enjoy reading these unbalance because they are easier to understand and easy for the journalists to compile in a short time.

Here are some of the headlines from some of the most popular media houses in Uganda.

Nurse Who Injected Child With HIV Blood Denied Bail – Red Pepper

Woman arrested for injecting baby with HIV infected blood – New Vision

How a nurse injected baby with HIV blood – The Observer

Baby infected with HIV – Urban TV

Lack of professionalism  or Ignorance?

When I see stories like this in the media only one thing comes to my mind – that after many decades of reporting on HIV/AIDS, journalists and editors have learned nothing, nothing at all. Many journalists have failed to understand that they have a role to play in the fight against HIV/AIDS and that their role is not to spread the gospel of discrimination but to educate people through telling true and balanced stories.

“Our health reporting is really lacking, we need training to help us understand those scientific terms and jargon language….” I have seen journalists front this excuse on several occasions. Well, I am NOT buying that no more! We are talking about the basics here, if you cant tell a simple story as it is, without fabricating the facts, am afraid even training on health reporting won’t benefit you much.

Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 10.18.06 AM

When I look at how the media has portrayed this nurse’s story, I feel hopeless. I learned that this nurse has a daughter. With this kind of reporting, the nurse becomes a public enemy even before the public knows verdict.

However, I still have faith that when the media and journalism is dies (if its not dead already), there are still people who are willing to tell and hear the balanced story, not to victimize or discriminate but to seek justice and make the world a better place.

Advertisements

Actions

Information

8 responses

11 02 2014
Bwire

at-least you know the media houses that reported!

11 02 2014
ahmed wetaka

Not only the stories about HIV but even other stories our media houses report from a specific point of views. Take for example the way media houses in Kampala covered Muslim wrangles. They clearly had a side, which worsened the conflict. You are right we need to be just and fair in our reporting.

12 02 2014
I like what I write: global living, parenting and running

Thank you so much Ssozi for your contribution to this story of the “Murder Nurse”. It saddened me to read! But I am grateful for a voice like yours. I posted the link to my fb page….Here is what I added:

So, I heard and read about this story in Uganda media a while ago, “Nurse Injects Child with HIV.”….

Now I understand, my girl C-Adiche was right, “the danger of a single story”…

“This is how I learned the other story, one that is not known to many. According to the people who have interacted with the nurse and the parents of the child, the nurse did not actually inject the child with blood.

What happened is that the child was on treatment and this nurse was supposed to administer a shot. Of course the nurse had a syringe in her hand. But we all know how much children fear pricking. So the child tried to resist and in the process the nurse pricked her (index) finger.”

If you watch the video via this link below, you will see how dehumanizing it is…to force and parade the ‘nurse’s’ face on public TV. a) if she is HIV+, as alleged herein, why would the media want the entire world to see her face, Drew Ddembe? b) and if she is indeed the accused, can’t she be granted some kind of right to privacy, and protection because the allegations against her…might instigate mob justice toward her, Bryo Muchachos?

I am saddened! This woman is no child, to be beaten around, pulled and frisked into places….she’s pretty much my mom’s age, I would assume. Moreover, she is still human, regardless of the accusations against her… ‪#‎TGE‬

12 02 2014
Adiche was Right: The Dangers of a Single Story!! | I Like What I Write

[…] you watch the video via this link (https://jssozi.wordpress.com/2014/02/10/the-nurse-who-injected-a-child-with-hiv-blood-media-propagand…), you will see how dehumanizing it is…to force and parade the ‘nurse’s’ […]

13 02 2014
Monja Minsi

I think the Uganda Media Center should remember its work for example design strong policies to regulate messages published by various media houses in Uganda but without the media center controlling this, bad messages will continue to be published to the people. They should stop lying to Us the Citizens of Uganda.

Monja

13 02 2014
Clare

Thanks Ssozi

13 02 2014
Fredrick Kawooya

Thanks for sharing this. I have been following this case with interest. I have read the blog from Sozi but still I find it weak as the original report from the NTV or even weaker. I have been wondering if this woman is really a trained nurse! From the findings of Sozi, this professional, was struggling to administer the injection and in the process of the child resisting, she pricks her index finger, and knowing very well her VIV status, I assume she had tested before, she goes ahead to use the same syringe on the child. If this is the final truth, then she has a case to answer. In any biological training, blood, mucus or any intravenous fluids are all considered highly contagious and dangerous to exchange as they first of all contain living cells and as a source of inoculum for any infection. Even when she was not HIV+, she out to have replaced the syringe. On the issue of the child being negative, the baby was given prophylactic treatment and this could have saved the baby. Does Ssozi suggest that they would have left the baby to contract the disease jut to provide evidence against this nurse who until now I think was reckless. I have been in the hospitals and I find many reckless doctors and nurses who care less about our lives. I know media has its issues but on this case, I haven’t found better truth.

13 02 2014
jssozi

@Fredrick, I totally understand your concern. And I hope in my post you read the part where I said “The mistake the nurse did is going ahead to use the syringe that had pricked her on the child – why she didn’t do this, you and I will probably never know…”

Clearly the nurse has a case – negligence as the court puts it. The Nurse is apparently trained and a professional as we call them – according to Victoria Medical Center and the people who have been following the case have confirmed this.

The other day NBS TV posted on Twitter “Court remands baby killer”.

My point was not to narrate a story of the person (Namubiru) who had already been tried and convicted by the media. My point was to expose some of the weaknesses the media portrayed when handling the story. And also to HIGHLIGHT that when the media reports in a biased manner (like they did in this case) they not only mislead the public, they also obstruct justice.

You could also do your own research to fill in the blanks that the media and I have created/ failed to fill. I just answered one of your questions, I hope.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: