Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Every hour, about five babies are born at Kawempe National Referral Hospital. According to the Deputy Executive Director, Dr Lawrence Kazibwe, they daily deliver between 100 and 150 babies ever since the second COVID-19 lockdown was lifted.
This number is almost triple the 50 to 70 babies that the hospital would record every day before the pandemic hit. Back then, Kazibwe says their peak month would be September where they would have about 70 babies each day.
While it’s a common scene at the hospital for mothers to sleep in hospital corridors, the overwhelmingly high numbers have pushed some to take shelter on various spots around the hospital compound.
Kazibwe says everywhere you look is a baby and 30 to 35 are delivered through caesarean section, creating an additional burden of having to keep them for three to five days while monitoring them.
As a result of the increase, he says, they received an additional budget of 1.2 billion Shillings to handle the boom. However, he says this is only a drop in the ocean as many mothers show up without basic needs such as cotton wool and mama kits which go for about 30, 000 Shillings on the market.
Kazibwe who was speaking upon receiving a donation of 1500 Mama Kits from Stanbic bank said that while the government would earlier provide Mama Kits through the National Medical Stores, recently supplies of kits come from donors and they are just about 60 per cent of what they require.
Barbara Kasekende, Stanbic bank’s Corporate Social Investment Manager says they started a campaign where they opened a donations account rallying well-wishers to help mothers deliver safely after visiting the facility and found many mothers in need. She says the current donation cost 35.5 million Shillings which is an addition to the 24 million Shillings donation extended to the hospital in July, a package that only lasted a week.
However, Stanbic is not the only institution that has come to the hospital’s rescue considering the challenges that they continue to face. Recently Rotary International, MTN and other entities donated items ranging from kits, drugs and equipment but, the hospital continues to struggle.
For instance, it recorded the highest number of maternal deaths last year at 116 mothers followed by Hoima which recorded less than half of that at 46.
Kazibwe notes that equipment and sundries only are not their only biggest problems since they operated with only a quarter of the medical workers that they would need even when they are helped by medical school students. He says to work well, they would need up to 900 staff but they only have about 300.