by williams moi
Pregnant women in Pallisa district in Eastern Uganda are reported to be delivering under trees due to the collapse of a building at the local health facility.
Due to inadequate space in Ngwere Health Centre III in Petete Sub County, health workers have created a makeshift shelter under trees near the centre for women to deliver in.
Reports indicate that Ngwere Health Centre III, which serves the entire sub county of more than 15,000 people plus its neighbors, has only two rooms after one of the centre’s buildings collapsed due to strong wind and heavy rain last year.
The facility, which is located about 15km from Pallisa town, is over crowded meaning patients are at risk of contracting infectious diseases during labor.
A health worker at the government aided facility described as “inhuman” the situation in which staff are forced to handle labors in the makeshift shelter due to a lack of space, adding that a quick intervention is required to rectify the situation.
“We have no alternative but to perform our duty in order to save the lives of these mothers as we wait for government response so as to rehabilitate the facility fully,” another medical worker said on condition of anonymity.
In Uganda it’s only the chief administrative officer or the medical superintendant who has the mandate to speak to the press about health matters but they are not always available. However, one nursing officers Ahmed Mpande agreed to be named as he said the collapsed building had become a major problem facing maternal health in Pallisa district. He added that the building’s collapse had been reported to the authorities but they had declined to respond.
Mpande says that other services including antenatal care, deliveries, laboratory and drug storage are all handled in the two rooms. Mpande also notes that, due to the poor working environment, the health facility is due to temporarily close until it is renovated.
Community resource person, Kulu Nalongo, says the centre serves a radius of 6km but regardless of its sorry state, the community still has hope over it though it’s not renovated.
When contacted, CAO Pallisa district Mbooge Isa confirms receipt of a letter sent in July last year (2011) drawing attention to the fact that the health unit requires immediate renovation.
Mbooge said Pallisa district has received funds from the poverty reduction program (PRDP) and expects to use part of the money to rehabilitate the health unit this financial year (2012/2013). But he did not mention when the work would begin.
However, Chairman of LC 5 Pallisa says that the district has no capacity to renovate the structure because it has no emergency funds.
“It is true this health unit is damaged but we have to budget for it next financial year since the district is in a planning cycle,” he added.
Nagwere health centre was run by NGO the Christian Children Fund in 1980 before the government took over in 2009.