The profile and causes of death among medical doctors and dental surgeons in Uganda: 1986 to 2016

  • Jacinto Amandua
  • Victoria Masembe
  • Jackson Amone
  • Peter Mukasa-Kivunike
  • Livingstone Makanga
  • Jackson Orem
  • Nazarius Mbona Tumwesigye
  • Sam Kalungi
  • Herbert Ariaka
  • Margaret Mungherera
  • Fred Nyankori
  • David Mukunya
  • Fred Ssentongo Katumba
Keywords: Profile and causes of death; medical doctors; dental surgeons; Uganda.


Background: The loss of health workers through death is of great importance and interest to the public, media and the medical profession as it has very profound social and professional consequences on the delivery of health services.

Objective: To describe the profile, causes and patterns of death among medical doctors and dental surgeons in Uganda between 1986 and 2016.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective descriptive study of mortality among registered medical doctors and dental surgeons. Information on each case was collected using a standard questionnaire and analysed. Cause of death was determined using pathology reports, and if unavailable, verbal autopsies. We summarized our findings across decades using means and standard deviations, proportions and line graphs as appropriate. Cuzick’s test for trend was used to assess crude change in characteristics across the three decades. To estimate the change in deaths across decades adjusted for age and sex, we fit a logistic regression model, and used the margins command with a dy/dx option. All analyses were done in Stata version 14.0 (Stata Corp, College Station, TX).

Results: There were 489 deaths registered between 1986 and 2016. Of these, 59 (12.1%) were female. The mean age at death was 48.8 years (Standard Deviation (SD) 15.1) among male and 40.1 years (SD 12.8) among females. We ascertained the cause of death for 468/489 (95.7%). The most common causes of death were HIV/AIDS (218/468, 46.6%), cancer (68/468, 14.5%), non-communicable diseases (62/48, 13.3%), alcohol related deaths (36, 7.7%), road traffic accidents (34, 7.3%), gunshots (11, 2.4%), among others. After adjusting for age and sex, HIV/AIDs attributable deaths decreased by 33 percentage points between the decade of 1986 to1995 and that of 2006 to 2016 –0.33 (–0.44, –0.21. During the same period, cancer attributable deaths increased by 13 percentage periods 0.13 (0.05,0.20).

Conclusion: The main causes of death were HIV/AIDS, cancer, non-communicable diseases, alcohol-related diseases and road traffic accidents. There was a general downward trend in the HIV/AIDS related deaths and a general upward trend in cancer related deaths. Doctors should be targeted for preventive and support services especially for both communicable and non-communicable diseases.

Keywords: Profile and causes of death; medical doctors; dental surgeons; Uganda.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1729-0503
print ISSN: 1680-6905