Moroto, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Shortage of clean water at Kakingol health III in Moroto district has worsened. Currently, health workers are asking patients and expectant mothers to fetch water from the river bed for use at the health center before they are attended to.
URN visited Kakingol health center III on Sunday and found expectant and breastfeeding mothers trekking two kilometers with other patients to fetch water from the waterlogged point in the wildness for general cleanness of the facility before they are given treatment by doctors.
Pascal Chegem, a village health officer in Kakingol told URN that a majority of the expectant mothers have refused to continue with antenatal fearing walking long distances to fetch water.
“This health center has a challenge of water. Because of the problem doctors and nurses in the facility request patients to fetch water for cleaning the facility, most mothers have now resorted to delivering at home instead of going to the health center because they fear to be sent to fetch water for cleaning and o other use,” She said.
She said Kakingol government health center is the only health center where patients use sand for cleaning the maternity ward after delivery due to lack of water. Michael Akol, the Katikekile sub-county LC3 chairperson where Kakingol health center III is found says the situation might force them to close the facility. He says the health center lacks a stable water source since it was built six years ago.
“Health workers posted in the health center are threatening to leave because they can’t continue sharing water with wild animals in a logged area,” he said. Samuel Koryang, the Health Inspector for Kakingol, said the health facility has continued to experience water shortage for more than one-and-half years after the gravitational water scheme constructed by UNICEF stopped working.
“It’s now compulsory in the health center that any patient who goes for treatment has to first collect water in one of the streams for cleaning the health center, which is a burden to them,” he said. He added that Karamoja Umbrella for Water and Sanitation, which signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Water to connect water to the facility, has not done its part.
Kelementina Naru, one of the patients who had gone to seek treatment in Kakingol, said most patients after receiving drugs, walk a distance of one kilometer to collect water from the stream to swallow the medicine. Dr. Timothy Okiror, the Kakingol health center in charge said in the dry season like the case is now health workers share water with wild animals.
“Last week baboons chased away two of our nurses who had gone to the stream to fetch water because we share water with wild animals. We don’t have any single borehole but we are giving services to our people,” he said. Dr. Okiror said the health center has been relying on rainwater that the facility always harvests during the rainy season but their tanks have dried up, leaving the health facility without water.
“There are times where we can use sand to cover blood after delivering mothers, we pray government comes to our rescue,” he said. Dr. Hanes Lokales, the Moroto District health director, confirmed to URN that Kakingol health center needs help.
Kakingol Health Centre III is about 50 kilometers northeast of Moroto Town. The government facility serves a population of 30,000 people including Turkana pastoralists from Kenya who graze their cattle in Uganda.