Bugiri. It is now five months since Bugiri Hospital’s electric power was disconnected due to accumulated bill of Shs100m.
Ms Angella Aanyu, a midwife at the hospital, said due to the power cut, they lose between four to five babies every month, especially those born prematurely and need an incubator to survive.
“Sometimes we deliver premature [babies] and they need an incubator but there is no power. We often advise mothers to adopt the kangaroo method [snuggling of the premature baby inside the pouch of its mother’s shirt, much like a kangaroo’s pouch]. If this fails to work, the babies die, for instance in January, we lost four premature babies,” Ms Aanyu says.
“Some mothers, after caesarean section, need oxygen to support their lives but because of the power cut, we can’t operate it and some [patients] die in the process of being transferred to Jinja Regional Referral Hospital, which is 55km away,” she adds.
Ms Aanyu said due to darkness at night, they are compelled to use phone torches while conducting deliveries.
The hospital acting medical supretendant, Dr Stephen Isabirye, said they receive Shs37m every quarter, which is very little to cater for all the hospital requirements, including utilities such as water bills, which is about Shs10m per month and electricity which costs them between Shs10m to Sh12m a month.
He said the district chairperson and the district chief administrative officer wrote to the Ministry of Health to intervene in the situation but in vain.
Mr Isabirye said some times they use a generator, but fueling it becomes a challenge and solar energy sometimes also goes off, especially when it rains, making the work of treating and monitoring of patients, especially at night very difficult.
Mr Isabirye said the power blackout has caused the hospital to lose drugs worth Shs5m which need refrigeration.
The assistant inventory management officer, Mr Aggrey Matege, said some equipment such as autoclaves [medical applications for sterilizing equipment], microscopes and X -ray machines cannot be used because of absence of power, which has made their work difficult.
Ms Stellah Namulondo, one of the attendants at the hospital, said taking care of her patient is challenging because she uses her phone torch, which also needs electricity to charge.