By Paul Kiwuuwa
State Minister for Health Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye and MPs were recently shocked to find midwives at Kiryandongo Hospital using a charcoal stove to sterilise delivery and surgical equipment for use in the labour ward.
The electrical autoclave machine containing boiling water, delivery scissors, forceps, cord clamps and retractors was placed over a charcoal stove due to lack of gas and electricity needed to heat it.
Mary Amaitum, the acting principal nursing officer at the health facility said in a bid to save the expectant mothers, the midwives had resorted to this rudimentary method which unfortunately, has destroyed the machine.
“It is very expensive and exposing it to hot charcoal has spoiled it because the charcoal cannot regulate the pressure automatically as gas or electricity would do,” she said.
Other challenges at the health centre include using kerosene lamps at night to deliver women and lack of access to piped water.
Tumwesigye, who led MPs on the health committee on a spot-check of the state of referral hospitals in northern Uganda, called for urgent intervention.
“Dilapidated facilities undermine the quality of the work being provided to the poor vulnerable population.”
The check also unearthed a long trail of laxity among health workers in handling preventable diseases.
At Lira referral hospital, the legislators said they found about 50 expectant mothers lying on the floor.
Petua Kiboko, the senior nursing principal officer, said the 20-bed maternity wing was insufficient for the hospital’s needs.