Hospitals registering many cases of anemia among pregnant mothers

By Moses Kidandi
The Government is registering a high increase in a number of anemia cases mainly in children and expectant mothers.

This has been attributed to poor feeding habits and several unknown reasons which are now being investigated by the Ministry of Health.

Health minister Jane Ruth Aceng who has expressed concern over the growing concerns was speaking at the launch of the Nutrition Society of Uganda at Makerere University school of food science.

The minister has how ever said Government has developed new strategies to address the challenges. She is now encouraging parents to start feeding them selves and their children with foods rich in iron.

Anemia in pregnant women has been attributed to their laxity in taking the recommended care and iron tablets as they under go antenatal care from health centers.

The senior economist in the office of the Prime Minister Galiwango Samuel while presenting a paper on key government strategies at the launch noted that the cases registered are worrying and recommended that mothers feed their children on fiber foods like Sweet potatoes, vegetables and beans from the routine served meals of posho, rice and other jack foods.

Two hospitals in Bunyoro have not disposed expired drugs in three years

Two hospitals in Bunyoro sub region are stuck with expired drugs that have not been disposed of for almost three years.

The expired drugs are in Masindi General Hospital and Kagadi General Hospital in Masindi and Kagadi districts respectively.

The issue of the expired drugs came onto the spotlight in the Auditor General’s report of the financial year 2015/2016. Auditor General John Muwanga asked why expired drugs were dumped in an open space at  Masindi General Hospital something that may cause danger to human beings.

A similar query was raised again at Kagadi General Hospital in the then Kibaale district where expired drugs were found in the store and the hospital administration cited lack of transport to take them away for disposal.

The Auditor General advised the two hospitals to liaise with the National Medical Stores-NMS to find ways of collecting these expired drugs.

Last week, Parliament’s local government accounts Committee sent away the officials from the current Kibaale district led by John Nyakahuma, the Chief Administrative Officer, because they were unable to answer for Kagadi Hospital which is now in the newly created Kagadi district. By the time of the audit, Kibaale has not yet been split into three to create Kagadi and Kakumiro districts.

The committee chaired by Aswa County MP Regan Okumu ordered the officials to appear at the next convenient review meeting together with the former CAO of Kibaale, the district health officer of Kagadi and the Medical Superintendent of Kagadi hospital to explain how they have handled the expired drugs.

Dr. James Olowo, the Medical Superintendent of Kagadi hospital has confirmed to URN that the expired drugs are still in the hospital but declined to explain what action has so far been taken.

Dr. Olowo, who doubles as the District Health Officer for Kagadi district, also declined to reveal the value and description of the expired drugs saying he would be pre-empting the explanation he is set to give to the parliamentary committee when invited.

In Masindi hospital, Dr. George Bateganya, the medical superintendent confirmed to URN that there were drugs and disposables tins that were found dumped in an open place by the auditors.

Dr. Bateganya reveals that the hospital had burnt those thought to be less harmful. He says that the said drugs that weigh less than 10kg were ruminant supplies for the Ebola isolation centre that was at the hospital when the deadly virus struck the country.

Now, the medical superintendent says that the Masindi district council is planning to contact the national drugs incinerator in Nakasongola district.

Dan Kimosho, the spokesperson of the National Medical Stores-NMS when contacted told URN that it is not their mandate to collect expired drugs in health facilities they supply to.

Kimosho says that the NMS has been seeking at least 300 million Shillings to be used in collecting expired drugs and incinerating them saying they have only done it to a few hospitals as part of social responsibility.




Unending civil war in Sudan causes institutions to relocate to Uganda

A number of South Sudanese religious and educational institutions are relocating to Uganda as the civil war in the country intensifies.

Close to a million people have fled to West Nile in Uganda amidst claims of ethnic cleansing by the warring factions.

Already a health training institution from Kajokeji town has relocated to Arua district with all its students. In Moyo, preparations are almost complete to relocate the Catholic Diocese of Kajokeji to Moyo town.

Kajokeji is located in Yei River State, one of the 28 states in South Sudan. Before the creation of states, it was part of the six counties of Central Equatoria. It is approximately 150 kilometres south of South Sudan capital, Juba, and 50 kilometres from the Uganda border post at Nimule.

William Anyama, the Local Council Five Chairperson of Moyo district says land and structures have already been put in place to accommodate the bishop and other diocesan leaders from Kajokeji diocese in the district. Anyama says over the last few months, several people have been displaced from Kajokeji and have taken refuge in Moyo district. He says the situation in South Sudan is alarming and calls for the residents of Moyo to offer shelter for the fleeing refugees.

Anyama says the influx is placing a heavy burden on the district to share the little resources available.

In Arua town, Kajokeji Health Training Institute has already opened its gates for the students to continue learning. Founded in 2013, the institute produced its first set of graduates last year after three years of training. The school located in Kajokeji town had its own premises complete with facilities. In September last year, unknown gunmen raided the school, killing two students. The raid forced the school management to close the institution and decided to relocate to Arua.

Santa Gudoa, the Administrative Assistant at the institute says since all the people in Kajokeji have fled, there was no need to continue operating the school there.

The relocation exercise has also come with a heavy burden on the management of the institution. Isaac Draciri, the Deputy Principal of the institute says the cost of relocating has been heavy. He says the current facility they are renting is costly. He says they are paying 3,000 US Dollars a month and the landlord forced them to pay for six months. According to Draciri, this has eroded the resource base of the institute.

Draciri also says the relocation has had an effect that a number of students have dropped out because they cannot afford to pay the high fees charged in Ugandan currency. He says this also affects the financial base of the institute coupled with the high costs of renting and provision of other facilities.

On a positive note however, the deputy principal says the cost of hiring tutors has lowered. Draciri says while in Kajokeji, they used to hire tutors from Arua and Gulu, with very high costs. He says they would pay for the visas and transportation from Uganda to Kajokeji. He now says they have cut down on the costs because the tutors are readily available at a reduced cost. He hopes this will improve the standards of the institution.

To the students it is a new experience. Betty Peter Elisa, a second year student studying nursing says she feels more at peace in Arua than when she was in Kajokeji. Elisa says after the death of her colleagues she was traumatized and wanted to leave the institute. She says when they were told that the school would be relocated to Arua, she and her colleagues were excited because they knew they would be safe.





How can we tame ruthlessness in private hospitals ?

A visit to a private international hospital in Kampala last week was a heart-wrenching experience.

My friend had given birth and this was meant to be a joyous occasion. Her trouble, however, started when she went to her regular clinic for antenatal check-up and was told she was dilating, and was already at five centimeters (women who have given birth before will understand this).

The nurse asked her if she was feeling any pain and she said no. She was asked to go back home. According to specialists, she should have been admitted because the baby was ready to be delivered.

After a few days at home without any change, she went back to the clinic for another review. A test was carried out and it was discovered she was still at five centimeters. The nurse on duty asked an assistant to induce labour. There were two expectant mothers and the measurements of the solution used to induce labour were different.

My friend had contractions so fast whereas the other one who was at four centimeters was not reacting; meaning the least of the two measurements was given to her, yet it was supposed to be my friend’s. My friend pushed the baby without much force, but it came out looking purple and made no sound.

The baby was rushed to a nearby hospital, but the parents were not assisted because they were not insured and they did not have enough money. The doctors there could not even touch the child without a cash deposit!

They had to try a second hospital. Here, the baby was admitted. Up to this point, the baby had not produced a sound, although the purple colour was slowly clearing. The doctors at this hospital were not friendly either. An old female doctor uttered words such as “your child does not have eyes…”

Nobody was saying if such a case had been witnessed before or what the actual problem was. Several tests were done without a proper explanation. On the second day, my friend and her husband could not have any more of the negativity; they asked to be discharged. They were only given a discharge sheet and when they asked for the x-ray and ultrasound scan images, they were told those were hospital property.

They went to another hospital. It had been three days and four hospitals since the birth of this child and the parents had received no proper diagnosis but negativity, hurtful words and tests.

My friend had had a normal pregnancy and this was her third child. The previous ones were all natural births. At the fourth hospital, doctors insinuated that all this was because she had been sent home after she had dilated five centimeters.

It is possible the baby was detached and because it was not delivered immediately, there was a struggle to remain breathing, the ventricles did not close on time. Another test revealed the heart was on the right side, and the baby’s blood deoxygenated. The baby was taken to nursery.

They stayed in the fourth hospital for several days and were discharged. Two days later, the baby developed a temperature. The mother called the doctor who saw the child last for some advice. She was referred to another hospital that has a neonatologist.

On reaching this fifth hospital, the first question was whether they were cash-patients or insured? As soon as they said cash, the demands started: “you won’t be admitted unless you deposit some money”. Lucky for them, they had some cash. The deposit was made and admission done.

Another round of tests started during their three-day stay here, some costing as much as Shs 500,000! Remember they took the baby there because of a temperature; no mention of that was made!

It is common in Uganda to talk about public hospitals that lack facilities, but have we ever scrutinized the way private hospitals that seemingly have it all treat their patients? A doctor’s main role is to save a life; but in these hospitals, it seems the order is “do not touch a patient unless the money part is sorted”.

I know these are businesses, but I would expect their biggest priority to be treating a patient, and restoring their life, and not leaving one to bleed to death because they don’t have cash at hand!

Lives have been lost, hospitals and doctors sued for neglect but it looks like no lesson has been learnt. Healthcare has been made very expensive and those without money die miserably.

When a pregnant mother goes to a rural hospital, she is advised on what to carry on the day they are going to give birth. These include gloves, cotton wool, gauze and a few other necessities. It is a shame for a respected hospital to send someone a bill including fees for gloves, syringes, nurse, meals, etc.

There is no problem with these things being paid for but I would prefer all that to be classified as medical care or something, not Shs 40,000 being specified as the amount being given to a nurse who did not even spend two minutes on a child.

From this hospital visit, I discovered there are a lot of underlying charges that break people’s backs. If this goes on unabated, we will have patients and dead bodies retained because of the huge bills presented to people when they finally recover or lose their loved ones.

As we make noise about what is not in some of our health facilities, let us not allow the ‘well-equipped’ ones to exploit people. It has been a gruesome three weeks for this young couple.

Jackie Nakee

The author is a Capital FM Big Breakfast show presenter.