"We register more than 200 pregnant women every month and some of them give birth to premature babies, with the donation of modern equipment, many lives will be saved."
KYOTERA – Expectant and new mothers in Kyotera and Rakai districts are excited over the first ever Neonatal Intensive Care Units (ICU).
The units have been launched at Kalisizo and Rakai hospitals respectively, to save lives of premature and newborn babies.
They were installed with brand new equipment including an incubator, resuscitator, oxygen concentrator, phototherapy machine and a warmer, among others.
This is an initiative of Brick by Brick Uganda through its Babies And Mothers Alive (BAMA) programme.
The programme focuses on the promotion of maternal and neonatal health, as well as equipping hospital wards and theatres for effective medical services. The programme is mainly running in the two districts.
Dr Emmanuel Ssekyeru, the in-charge of the maternity wing, told the New Vision that midwives and other health workers first underwent training at Masaka Regional Referral Hospital on how to use or handle the sophisticated equipment.
He added that they receive quite a number of complicated neonatal cases from different lower health units across the district, most of which require special attention, with modern equipment in place.
Ssekyeru further noted that they receive between five and 10 premature babies every month plus women who are about to deliver premature babies.
Dr George William Waggumbulizi, the Kyotera District Health Officer, said they have been referring the cases to Masaka Regional Hospital or Kitovu Hospital for further attention.
He noted that sometimes weak babies would die due to delayed attention and lack of machines at Kalisizo Hospital.
"I thank Brick by Brick Uganda for the donation and training they offered our staff of Kalisizo Hospital," he said.
In his explanation, there are various causes of premature births and the most common being severe malaria during pregnancy and inadequate maternal health care services.
However, Richard Bantubalamu, the Kalisizo Hospital Administrator, said that apart from the neonatal unit equipment, BAMA has always provided gloves, sutures, drugs and other medical items.
He added that BAMA has also equipped midwives with skill in how to reduce neonatal and maternal mortality, among others. In order to encourage women to give birth from hospitals, BAMA offers soap and basins to expectant mothers at the hospital.
Enrolled midwives Juliet Nagujja and Betty Nakamatte, said the absence of the neonatal intensive care unit and key medical equipment would put the lives of premature babies and neonates at stake.
But this time, they added, the incubator will provide warmth for the premature while a resuscitator will supports breath of weak new born babies, especially those having difficulty in breathing.
Nagujja said the phototherapy machine will help to provide light to neonates with jaundice, a condition that causes skin and the whites of the eyes to turn yellow.
Nakamatte, noted that they receive between 200 and 220 pregnant women every month and sometime the number shoots to 250 and 290 women. As of February, they registered 222 women.
Dr Yasin Kiyemba, the Rakai Hospital Medical Superintendent, said they get between eight and 10 premature cases every month.
He added that several premature babies and neonates have died due to lack of machines to support their lives.
“We register more than 200 pregnant women every month and some of them give birth to premature babies,” he said, adding that with the donation of modern equipment, many lives will be saved.
Initially, Kiyemba said, they would advise mothers to use ‘Kangaloo’ care in a bid to save their premature babies. This is where a mother or caretaker caries the baby skin-to-skin on the chest to keep them warm.
BAMA Programme Coordinator
Dr Eleanor Nakintu told us that the two units cost them more than sh152m including refurbishment of the units and training of hospital staff.
She added that they are still looking for funds to enable them expand their services to other hospitals in greater Masaka region.
Nakintu, said they are planning to set up a cancer screening and treatment centre at Kakuuto Health Centre IV through the programme.
In 2017, the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga delivered medical equipment worth sh1.4b to Kakuuto Health Centre IV.
The equipment donated by Medi-share Hospital in the US included an incubator, wheel chairs, oxygen cylinders, fridges, baby warmer, massage bed, gloves and clutches, among others.