Officer Commanding, Depot 4 King’s African Rifles, BOMBO
I inspected the Camp and Hospital at Bombo at 11am on 17 December 1917. I found at the Infectious Hospital under Captain HL Duke, Uganda Medical Service, that there were five cerebro-spinal meningitis cases, there was nothing on the floor of the small circular bandas in which they were treated for them to lie on, two of the five cases were lying dead, covered by a blanket, and with a living patient naked beside the body, no signs of any treatment for these cases were apparent, and no disinfectants for the attendants could be seen, lumbar puncture had never been done. These were all enlisted King’s African Rifles. Captain Duke stated the bodies were awaiting burial.
At the small-pox enclosure there were three dead bodies, two lying in the bandas where they died occupied by other patients. In these cases also there was no attempt at any bed.
Many of these were enlisted King’s African Rifles.
This being, in my opinion, a case of gross criminal neglect of duty on the part of Captain Duke, I placed him under open arrest and forward this to you.
I also drew your attention to the cerebro-spinal [App 2 2] fever compound at the time.
I attach a statement by Lieutenant-Colonel A Balfour, CMG, Royal Army Medical Corps, on the subject.
Sgd WW Pike
Army Medical Corps
Note: Later the same evening, finding it would take a long time to enquire into the case or try Captain Duke, we directed the Assistant Director of Medical Services to go to Bombo next morning and ‘release him without prejudice to further re-arrest or trial’.
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Lieutenant-Colonel A Balfour’s Statement
On Monday, 17 December, I accompanied Surgeon General Pike in his inspection of the King’s African Rifles Depot and Hospital at Bombo. In the course of the inspection we visited the Isolation Hospital. Major Carew, Officer Commanding King’s African Rifles Depot, and Captain HL Duke, Uganda Medical Service, were in attendance. The latter who is the Sanitary Officer of the Post has been acting for a week past as the Medical Officer in charge of the Isolation Hospital vice Captain Goodliffe, Uganda Medical Service, who is ill.
The Isolation Hospital is situated about half a mile from the main hospital and consists of an enclosure including a number of compounds separated from each other by reed fences or barbed wire strands. The patients are housed in small grass huts. A Private, African Native Medical Corps, and one native dresser look after the cases.
We first visited the compound containing the cerebro-spinal meningitis cases. Of these there were five, all King’s African Rifles recruits. Two were dead and the dead men were lying on the ground alongside the living patients. One of these patients was unconscious and delirious.
There were no beds and there was not sufficient grass to form a couch. Hence the patients were lying on the ground. On enquiry we found that no treatment by lumbar puncture was in vogue. All that was done was to give them a mixture containing potassium bromide and opium. It is administered by the African Native Medical Corps Private.
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Captain Duke stated that he visited the Isolation Hospital every day, but when asked he was unable to say which huts contained patients and he was not certain where the dead lay.
It was evident that he took no interest whatever in the cases either as regards their treatment, food or comfort.
The conditions were disgraceful and could not have been worse if the patients had been dying in their own villages without medical attendance.
We then visited the small-pox enclosure and found the same conditions prevailing, save that Captain Duke had paid attention to the feeding of the patients there. Here again the dead, of whom there were three, shared the huts with the living. Indeed the condition was, on the whole, worse, for the living small-pox cases were not delirious and so were cognisant of the dead beside them.
No arrangements for disinfection existed in either compound.
Sgd Andrew Balfour