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Sunday,September 27,2020 13:39 PM

Kawempe neonatal ICU gets new equipment

By Violet Nabatanzi

Added 22nd August 2020 12:09 PM

The health minister, Dr Ruth Aceng, urged health workers to use the new facilities to save the newborns.

Kawempe neonatal ICU gets new equipment

Dr Aceng (right) touring the newly refurbished neonatal intensive care unit wardthat was commissioned at Kawempe National Referral Hospital.

The health minister, Dr Ruth Aceng, urged health workers to use the new facilities to save the newborns.

Kawempe National Referral Hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) has been furnished with new equipment to improve the quality of services.

This follows a boost of sh1.3b from MTN foundation through the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to refurbish dilapidated health facilities and provide equipment.

The funds went towards renovation and equipping of theatres and maternity units, including Kawempe National Referral Hospital and selected health centre IVs in Bulambuli, Pakwach, Kalangala and Karugutu.

Out of the allocated funds, sh363m was used to refurbish and equip Kawempe neonatal intensive care unit.

The ultramodern and busiest NICU unit accommodates between 70 to 80 new babies compared to the old one, which used to cater for 30. Most babies admitted to the NICU are preterm (born before 37 weeks of pregnancy), and have low birth weight.

BETTER SERVICES

Previously, the unit was handling fewer numbers due to lack of enough equipment.

Speaking at the commissioning of the refurbished unit, the hospital's executive director, Nehemiah Katusiime, said the facility was struggling with limited space, leading to congestion, inadequate equipment, limited neonatal beds and lack of advanced critical care for newborns.

He said with the support, some of the issues have been addressed and the facility will be handling more cases going forward.

The facility provides one-third of all delivery services in Kampala.

The health minister, Dr Ruth Aceng, urged health workers to use the new facilities to save the newborns.

"The admissions are many and the health workers are few. With commitment, we can still do a little more. I know Kawempe has challenges of absenteeism, as well as those who report to for duty but do not work.

We shall enhance supervision for better services,'' she noted. Aceng said she was concerned about the increasing number of young girls delivering from the facility, saying there is an urgent need of sensitisation, not from only health workers but also from their parents.

"The rate of teenage pregnancies continues to go up and it will be worse because schools are closed.

When we were here in July, we went through statistics and the majority of mothers delivering from here were girls as young as 15,'' she added.

Aceng asked the public to protect themselves against COVID-19 by wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing. 

MATERNAL HEALTH UNDERFUNDED

The support comes after several photos of neonates crowded on one bed at the facility went viral on various social media platforms.

The MTN chief executive officer, Wim Vanhelleputte, said their decision to focus on maternal and child health was informed by a consultative meeting with the health ministry. He noted that through the consultations, it was realised that maternal health was one of the most underfunded sections of the health sector.

"Our objective is to improve access to quality maternal health services through establishing minimum standards of infrastructure at maternity wards as recommended by the health ministry,'' he said.

In a speech read by the UNFPA Representative, Alain Sibenaler, the UNICEF representative in Uganda, Dr Doreen Mulenga, said there was a need for collective action to ensure that the facility provides care at the level expected of a National Referral Hospital.

Sibenaler said there was need to strengthen data systems for evidence-based actions, specifically institutionalising the facility based on maternal perinatal death surveillance and response system.

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