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Gulu task force, clinical school disagree over relocation of COVID-19 patients

Gulu City Resident Commissioner, Maj Santo Okot Lapolo speaking to the media recently

Gulu, Uganda |  THE INDEPENDENT | Gulu City Resident Commissioner, Maj Santo Okot Lapolo has disagreed with the Management of Gulu College of Health Sciences over the relocation of COVID-19 patients.

The college with over 900 students operates two campuses; one is adjacent to Gulu Regional Referral Hospital and another at the former Laroo Boarding School of Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) returnees. Over 300 final year students are expected to report back to the school this week.

In March, Gulu District Covid-19 Task Force designated the two campuses as a treatment center for COVID-19 patients and quarantined persons.

Grace Aninge, the Principal of the College says they want to use their space in both campuses to manage social distancing rules as a recommended standard operation procedure (SOP). 

However, the Task Force headed by Lapolo has disagreed saying the school should operate only one campus and another campus should continue to host patients.

According to Lapolo, the Task Force has failed to secure space elsewhere to host over 177 COVID-19 patients currently receiving care at the treatment centre.  He says several institutions that include, Watoto Church, World Vision Resource Centre, Sir Samuel Baker School and Gulu Secondary School have been approached for space but to no avail.

But Aninge disagreed with the RDC saying COVID-19 patients across the country are being evacuated from several education host institutions to allow smooth reopening as directed by Government and Gulu shouldn’t be exceptional.

On 19th September, the School wrote to the Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Ruganda reminding him of the need for the patients to be relocated from the school to allow institutional space for final year students scheduled to start reporting today Monday.

According to the letter, the school management also demanded the District Task Force to fumigate the facility, pay utility bills spanning April to September and repair all property vandalized by the patients.

In his response dated September 22 to the Ministry of Education and Sports, Ministry of Health and Ministry for Presidency and Security, Dr. Rugunda requested the three Ministries to work together with the Institution to implement the President’s directive of opening schools for finalist students. 

Gulu College of Health Sciences (formerly Gulu School of Clinical Officers) is a Government institution established in the 1950s as a midwifery school to train students in medical research and health system. 

The College was transformed into a school for enrolled nurses and midwives in the 1970’s and later a school for Medical Assistants in the early 1980s. It remained a school for Clinical Officers until 2016 when Diplomas in Public Health Dentistry, Pharmacy, Health Service Management and Anaesthesia were introduced.

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