Our limited medical vocabulary

Just wondering why our Uganda languages mostly have one word for medical personnel – doctors, nurses, lab technicians and health workers as a whole – village health teams, herbalists and all others. We do not have a different word for Clinicians, for example; and it is often the case that we perceive all clinicians to be of the same expertise and specialisation, which is not the case.

The same word that we use for clinicians is the one that we use for the myriad of allied health professionals; of the various types of nursing personnel; of assistants; and of alternative medicine practitioners.

In Ateso, the language of the fifth largest first nation of Uganda, case in point, the word is imurok (plural). In most cases, the usage of imurok or emuron (singular for male) or amuron (singular for female) is in reference to any and all types of health practitioners. Even a non-medical person working in a hospital, Iteso may include them in the categorisation imurok.

Lab technician at Bobi Healthcare Centre.

And so, it is prudent for one to interrogate further which medical credentials Iteso meant when they use the word imurok. This seems the case also in Luganda with the word abasawo (plural) or omusawo (singular). Luganda is the language of the largest first nation of Uganda.

Beware, therefore, that within Ateso vocabulary and Luganda vocabulary, the actions of a nurse or a lab technician may be presented as though they were the actions of a doctor.

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