By Norman Katende
Just about 5km away from the Suam Uganda-Kenya border, families are enjoying hydroelectricity power. They use it to watch movies, television and also blast their radios loud.
But darkness covers the dusty road that passes through the ragged hills, punctuated with maize and barley fields and streams of water to feed the donkeys and cattle, all the way to Bukwo Hospital. The facility supposed to cater for a population of over 85,000 people is all dark, save for the candles and lanterns emitting dark fumes.
Outside, new beds for the patients, trolleys for emergencies and baby cots, lie in a shed idly, waiting to be used in the place that looks more like a hostel.
But this equipment, part of the over sh1b World Bank donations, is squeezed into the small rooms.
The other equipment, such as theatre lighting, an electric and HCT centrifuge, baby incubator and a blood bank refrigerator, lie in different stores, waiting for an opportunity to be used.
“We thank the health ministry for the equipment. But as you can see, we cannot use them without power,” the hospital’s medical superintendent, Dr. Lokel Rosalba, says. “Some machines may be able to use solar, but we do not even have enough solar power to run them,” Loker says, as she checks the blood bank refrigerator which looks new, but has not been used.
It is said most politicians buy generators and solar panels for their homes, but care little about the newly built facility. Instead of bringing electricity, politicians prefer initiatives that bring them quick popularity and, consequently, votes.
“We have at times been forced to operate with torches,’ Lokel says. “What do you do when a patient needs a C-section and then and there is no electricity? But the struggles the medical staff face, will not stop the people in Suam from enjoying the wonders electricity brings into our houses.