What Caused the Recent Sudden Deaths in Kampala?

Luke Owoyesigyire, the deputy Kampala police spokesperson

Of recent, Kampala has registered incidents of people dying abruptly on roads, markets, bus and taxis. Deputy Kampala metropolitan police spokesperson, Luke Owoyesigyire, has been identifying the victims but declining to divulge details on the cause of these deaths saying they are prohibited from sharing postmortem findings save to family members.

Nevertheless, some of the unexpected deaths that have occurred in Kampala a fortnight ago include, Elizabeth Kakayi, who collapsed and died at around 11:2am in Nakasero market. Police and witnesses said Kakayi was talking to friends when hastily because silence and breathed her last.

Thirteen years old, Yale Joshua, was also playing with colleagues at Kololo, when he fell down and died instantly. The witnesses who were mostly children told police that they thought Yale was joking and they were laughing about his fall. They, however, realised he was unresponsive. This incident happened on a Sunday afternoon.

Shamirah Azizi, also died inside a Modern Bus in Kampala in afternoon hours. She was on board with her husband, Muhammad Ssekimpi, who thought she was just asleep in her seat since they had from Nairobi by road.

Azizi’s death came hours after a man walking in the afternoon hours collapsed and died at Fairway traffic lights. This man was not identified since he had no any documents on him. Earlier on, Peter Apangu, died suddenly inside a taxi which he boarded from Katooke to City centre.

Although no report has been made public on these sudden deaths, a police source said Azizi’s death resulted from illnesses emanating from sick internal organs. The fairway death was reportedly caused by hunger because the victim had gone days without a meal.

Asked to explain whether the recent sudden deaths in Kampala could have resulted from the seemingly too much heat, Yusuf Nsubuga, a meteorologist at Uganda National Meteorological Authority (UNMA), they have no any study related to that.

However, Nsubuga said several parts of the country have been experience abnormal heat mostly areas of Northern Uganda. Nsubuga said there was need to collaborate with health experts to research about the possible linkage between heat and sudden deaths.

“There is no study yet done. I have been hearing them. but what we need to do is that we work together with health sector and then try to establish whether there is a linkage between such incidents and prevailing weather,” Nsubuga said.

The latest report by World Meteorological Organization (WMO) shows 2021 was one of the seventh consecutive warmest years on record whose temperature was more than 1°C above pre-industrial levels. New York Times reported last year that close to 200 people had died as a result of extreme spike in temperature in Oregon and Washington. The most victims were laborers in fields and warehouses.

Police pathologist, AIGP Dr Moses Byaruhanga, in one of the recent interviews with URN, said sudden deaths results from among other conditions cardiovascular diseases. Cardio means the heart while macular means vessels.

“The diseases of the heart and blood vessels. The major causes you’ll find there is a stroke meaning there is rapture of a blood vessel in brain. Ischemic disease, meaning the heart does not receive blood. You can get a blood in the vessel. A clot in the lung would make you fail to breathe,” Dr Byaruhanga said.

This is not the first time people have died abruptly on Kampala streets. At the start of Covid19 in 2020, more than a dozen people were picked dead on streets and their rooms. In 2018, more than 20 people were found dead on roads and houses in a space of four months. But all these incidents were attributed to alcohol, drugs, poisoning, hunger, pressure, diabetes and heart failures.