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95% of Entebbe national isolation centre renovation works complete- MOH

Entebbe national isolation centre before renovation (FILE PHOTO)

 Entebbe, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT  |  At least 95 percent of the renovation works at National Isolation Centre in Entebbe are complete, the Ministry of Health-MOH has revealed. Patrick Rubongoya, the project manager, says the remaining works including the remodelling of the former tuberculosis ward, floor works, painting and fixing machines are most likely to be completed by the end of this month.     

The National isolation centre in Manyago village in Entebbe Municipality was set up in 2009 to handle medical emergencies that require isolation. It has been managing Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-Sars and Ebola cases. In 2015, the World Bank supported the revamping of the center at a tune of Shillings 3 billion.  

However, renovation works began in October 2019 with Synergy Enterprises Ltd as the initial contractor. MOH expected the project to end by June 2020. However, this didn’t happen because of disruptions resulting from the Covid-19 lockdown. As a result, the ministry extended the completion deadline by two months. The works stalled in September after MOH fired Synergy Enterprises Ltd for failing to meet deadline and use the specified building materials.  

As a result, MOH sourced a new contractor after getting clearance from the World Bank and the Solicitor General in late December. The Ministry then contracted BMK Uganda Ltd. The works resumed in late January. BMK Uganda Ltd has up to the end of April to complete the project.  

Dr. Diana Atwine, the MOH Permanent Secretary is optimistic that the center will be open by next month. She however says the ministry has asked for an additional Shillings 1.8 billion (500,000 US Dollars) for the completion of the project and the one under Mulago National Specialized Hospital. 

The loan request, approved by the cabinet, is now being scrutinized by the Committee on the National Economy of parliament.  Atwine explains that the two national isolation centres will be the first call for infectious disease cases.   

In January, Eng. George Otim, the commissioner of health infrastructure in the Health Ministry said that the contractor was expected to expedite works on the medical building, which includes the laboratory, wards, intensive care unit, mortuary and laundry rooms and complete them by February.  

He explained that this arrangement would enable Entebbe Hospital to admit COVID-19 patients at the facility as works continue at the former TB ward.   At the time of the takeover, the overall progress of the project was at 70 per cent completion rate. 

When URN visited the site on Tuesday, 10 workers were plastering the walls of the former TB ward while others were planting grass near the public parking area.  Henry Ssuubi, the site engineer from BMK Uganda Ltd, says that the medical building is complete.

He also said they had completed the decontamination of the chamber to ensure waste flow into the national sewerage system is safe. The chamber is 3.6 meters deep and 11.6 meters long. 

Some of the pending works however include fixing laboratory equipment, 3 two-body refrigerated cabinets among others, and remodelling the TB ward. Ssubi says a total of 80 workers are on the site to expedite the works. Once completed, Entebbe Hospital will transfer all its coronavirus patients and suspects to the isolation center. 

The hospital used to serve a population of over one million from Entebbe, Kalangala, Katabi town council among other areas before it was turned into a COVID-19 management facility in late March.  The isolation center will accommodate 50 to 100 beds and relieve Entebbe hospital and other regional hospitals that are currently overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases.



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