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Moyo Hospital: Too remote for skilled medics

By Vision Reporter

Added 9th January 2012 05:10 PM

The buzzing mosquito on a cold night is making him uncomfortable. He wants to shift, but he is too weak. Like the other patients, he cannot afford a mosquito net, leave alone treatment, which is why he was brought to hospital.

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The buzzing mosquito on a cold night is making him uncomfortable. He wants to shift, but he is too weak. Like the other patients, he cannot afford a mosquito net, leave alone treatment, which is why he was brought to hospital.

By Norman Katende

The buzzing mosquito on a cold night is making him uncomfortable. He wants to shift, but he is too weak. Like the other patients, he cannot afford a mosquito net, leave alone treatment, which is why he was brought to hospital.

He lives over 30km from the government hospital, which offers free treatment. He is one of the many admitted in Moyo Hospital, which serves over 360,000 people.

 “Most of the window glass is broken and we cannot afford to replace it. The money we get is not even enough for our daily work. To make matters worse, our budget has been cut down to support the newly-formed District Health Service department,” says Dr. Idi Franklin Amuli, the hospital’s medical superintendent.

 The glasses do not only keep mosquitoes away, but also keep the hospital warm. However, it is different at night and worse when it rains. Beds have to be shifted to the corridors to protect patients from the rain and cold, which expose them to pneumonia and other infections.

 Amuli is the only specialist at the hospital, which is manned by two other doctors; Geoffrey Arubaku and Frank Tabuley.

 These three doctors are being supported by 60 nurses, of the 120 nurses needed at the hospital, which was built by former President Apollo Milton Obote, and inaugurated by President Idi Amin Dada in 1972.

 The doctor to patient ratio in the district is 1:118,000, far below the recommended 1:2,500. 

 Most parts of the ceiling are threatening to fall in due to the water that drips from the roof when it rains. The broken glass and rusty water taps are only kept in position by polythene bags. 

 “Our major problem is the hospital is in a remote area. Because of this, most qualified people do not want to work here. The few who do have ties with Moyo. They were either born here or in the neighbouring areas,” said Amuli about the need for more recruitment.

 The theatre is located on the second floor. However, after being wheeled through the corridors to the theatre, most patients’ lives still hang in balance. Doctors fear to take on operations because there is a risk of killing the patients, instead of saving them.

 This is because the operation bed is unstable and at times sinks during the operation.  

 “There is little we can do since we do not have money to buy a new one,” Amuli said. The operation table and delivery beds have to be held firm by polythene bags or used bandages.

 The hospital taps have run dry. The facility now relies on a borehole for water. The hospital no longer serves inpatients food.  The water heater in the kitchen has since broken down with the pipes through which hot water flows to the wards rusted.

 Despite the hospital handling an average of 500 cases from the Out-patient department and over 200 admissions per quarter, it has no emergency section.

“We refer such cases to either Gulu (five hours from Moyo, which includes crossing River Nile using a ferry) or Arua for over three hours via a dusty road,” says Amuli.

 For an unknown reason, many patients do not seek treatment early enough. About three to four patients die at the hospital weekly. Most of these deaths, according to health workers, are a result of the delay to seek treatment. 

 “By the time these people come to hospital, the damage has already been done and there is little we can do. But we are trying to tell them to come to hospital early”

Most children come when they are anaemic. The good thing is that blood, like all other drugs, is kept in fridges that have their own solar panel to supply power for them. The blood is got from Arua every fortnight and this has helped save many. 

“We are happy that they look after us. The only problem is the hospital is far,” said one of the attendants, who lives about 30km from the hospital.

 The hospital had two ambulances which could deal with emergencies, but they broke down. In fact, the money allocated to the hospital to cater for any eventualities has been cut by over 25% to cater for the health service division at the district.

Not even the medicine they get from the National Medical Stores for their quarter is enough. For instance, during the last quarter the hospital requisitioned for drugs worth sh70m, but only got drugs worth sh17m.

“We have to ration them so that everyone gets the basic. If they get better, that is good for us, if they don’t, we refer them to pharmacies for more medication,” says Idiyo, a nurse.

Also, one of the corridors has been turned into an HIV/AIDS testing and counselling centre.

Moyo Hospital: Too remote for skilled medics

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