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No hospital, no oxygen – Pader’s predicament

Twenty-one years and still counting, Pader district is without a district hospital and is struggling to manage the second wave of COVID-19

Pader, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The absence of a hospital has denied Pader district the opportunity of receiving medical oxygen needed to support the management of Covid-19 critical cases.

Consequently, the district health department cannot now manage critical cases that they receive, URN has learnt.

The district chairperson, Col Obwoya Fearless Oyat said an official from the Ministry of Health told him that medical oxygen is only being given to district hospitals, regional and national referral hospitals.

Curved out of Kitgum district in 2000, Pader has one health centre IV, 13 health centre IIIs and 29 heath centre IIs.  The district had a population of 180,000 people according to the National Population and Housing Census 2014.

Col Obwoya Fearles Oyat told a coordination meeting on Friday last week that as per the resolution of Covid-19 taskforce, he went with six empty cylinders to refill with oxygen, only to be told from the Ministry of Health that oxygen is not given to a facility with status of health centre IV.

This feedback did not go down well with some members of the Pader district taskforce. They appealed to the government to revisit their decision to allow even districts without a hospital to access oxygen.

The chairperson Urban Council Pader, Mr Kilama Fearless Wodacholi wondered if the government really cares for its citizens when they say only district hospitals, regional and national referral hospitals can access oxygen.

Pader acting District Health Officer (DHO), Ms Apio Anna said their efforts to upgrade Pajule health centre IV to a district hospital have not yielded fruits for the last 21 years. She said the district Covid-19 taskforce was stuck with three Covid-19 patients that were in critical condition due to lack of medical oxygen.

She added that the patients were referred to Gulu Regional Referral Hospital but could not be admitted due to lack of space at the hospital.

Just like other districts in Uganda, cases of Covid-19 pandemic are on the upsurge in Pader with a total of 115 positive cases currently being managed under home based care.

A total of 6,778 samples were taken and tested since the beginning of Covid-19 pandemic, 488 cases were confirmed positive while 376 cases have recovered, with 6 cases of deaths registered.

However, the Resident District Commissioner, Mr Ducman Okee, also the district Covid-19 taskforce chairperson acknowledged the problem but said the government is committed to ensuring the district gets a hospital.

He said with the help of friends and well-wishers, we are going to refill our empty cylinders with oxygen from Gulu city here in our region. Pader woman Member of Parliament Ms Paska Aciro Menya said there is a greater need for coordination among district leaders for people to receive effective service delivery. She commended the government for giving the district an ambulance to support the emergency.

The deputy Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Mr James Okumu, said a 958million Shilling Covid-19 response plan has been approved.

The plan includes, raising community awareness, vaccination, and capacity building of personnel and recruitment of staff on contract.

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