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Crowds persist at Kawempe Hospital despite minister’s directive


Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Congestion has persisted at the main entrance of Kawempe Referral Hospital days after the Health State Minister Robinah Nabbanja directed security to clear the entrance and enforce COVID-19 physical distancing guidelines.

Nabbanja issued the directives when she visited Kawempe Referral Hospital on Monday  and found hundreds of people congested at the entrance. These included patients and their caretakers struggling to enter into the facility, brokers and hawkers vending all kinds of merchandise.

In her meeting with the hospital management, Nabbanja directed the hospital authorities to provide additional infrared thermometers to take the temperature of patients and easy congestion. She also directed the hospital security to evict the hawkers and brokers from the entrance to ease congestion.

Uganda Radio Network visited Kawempe Referral Hospital three days after the minister’s directive and found people standing in long queues at the gate surrounded by several brokers trying to lure patients to seek services from private facilities around the hospital. Others include vendors selling masks, and food.

Our reporters also observed that the guards were not taking the temperature of those entering the hospital. The guards would only ask people why they were visiting the hospital before they would allow them in or turn them away.

Most of the patients would wear their mask while entering the hospital gates and immediately pull them off while inside where they interact freely with other people they find in wards. Dr. Lawrence Kazibwe, the Acting Deputy Executive Director Kawempe Referral Hospital, says they expect to expedite the procurement of the infrared thermometers to reduce congestion at the entrance.

“We are still in the process of getting the thermometers from the office of the State Minister for health. The congestion is majorly created by the mask-food vendors and brokers,” he said. Dr. Nehemia Katusiime, the Acting Executive Director Kawempe Referral Hospital, says they were forced to involve Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA) to evict the hawkers and brokers but the enforcement teams didn’t succeed in keeping them away too.

Dr. Kazibwe says the Resident City Commissioner’s Office and Local council leadership had planned to conduct operations at the beginning of the year but were disorganized by the lock down.

Early this week, the Belgian Development Agency Enabel donated a consignment of thermometers to help strengthen Coronavirus-COVID-19 surveillance in hospitals in Entebbe and Kampala.

While receiving the consignment, Health Minister, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng noted that many places are not measuring the temperature of people accessing them, adding that where it is done, only one of a few thermometers are available, which leads to congestion.



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