Fort Portal, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Government health centers in Fort Portal Tourism City are operating without Personal Protective Equipment –PPE and are no longer observing the Standard Operating Procedures– SOPs.
Our reporter has visited at least six health centers in the city and discovered that most of them don’t have gloves, faces masks, aprons, sanitizers and temperature guns among others. They include Ibaale Health Centre II, Kagote Health Center III, Kasusu Health Centre III, Kataraka Health Centre IV, Mucwa Health Centre II and Fort Portal Regional Referral Hospital.
At Fort Portal Regional Referral Hospital, only two of the four gates have gatekeepers who take the temperature of visitors and patients. People enter freely and leave the hospital through the other gates that are not manned. In addition, most of the people, including health workers inside the health facility, have no masks and don’t observe social distancing.
There are currently four COVID-19 patients undergoing treatment at the isolation center in the referral hospital. Dr. Alex Adaku, the Director Fort portal Regional Referral hospital notes that amidst lack of PPE, some of the workers, patients and visitors are undisciplined because they ‘adamantly refuse’ to use masks or wash hands even when the equipment is in place.
At Kataraka Health Centre IV, the handwashing equipment looked rusty and didn’t have water and just like at Kasusu, there was no one to ensure those accessing the health facility comply with SOPs. The Kasusu Health Centre III in-charge, Doreen Natukunda, says that they only received sanitizer about three months ago and it has since been used up.
Murungi Monica, the Ibaale HC II in charge, notes that at on several occasions they have been forced to use their own money to buy things like gloves and masks because they last received a consignment from National Medical Stores -NMS about two months ago.
She explains that the health facility receives at least 40 out-patients a day from the 10 villages that it serves, adding that it is risky to work without PPE especially during this time when there is an outbreak of the novel Corona Virus. Dr. Solom Asiimwe, the Acting Health Officer Fort Portal Tourism City, says that they are in constant communication with the Ministry of Health and NMS to ensure the health facilities get the necessary PPE.
The head of Fort Portal COVID-19 task force, Festus Bandeeba says they will meet the stakeholders in the health sector next week including the in-charges to devise means on how to strictly enforce the SOPs amidst laxity in public. Earlier this month, Kabarole and Fort Portal COVID-19 task forces resolved to use the Shillings 60 million returned by Members of Parliament to buy 35,000 kilograms of maize flour for teachers, patients, the elderly and people living with HIV/Aids.
The task force said that lack of food caused by the Corona Virus outbreak was the most pressing issue at the time and it needed urgent intervention. As of Wednesday, Uganda had registered 106 deaths caused by COVID-19 with 11,767 cumulative confirmed cases and 7,461 recoveries.