Tuesday January 3 2017

Mothers decry sorry state of neonatal intensive care unit

By CHRISTOPHER KISEKKA

Masaka. Health workers and expectant mothers at Masaka Regional Referral Hospital have decried the sorry state of it’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (Nicu).
This has exposed the lives of infant babies to danger since about four are accommodated in a warmer that was designed to accommodate only one.
Ms Gladys Bingi, the officer in charge of Nicu, said the unit is currently facing a number of challenges which have compromised the quality and efficiency of services rendered.
“… Our main concern is inadequate supplies. We have taken long without cannulas yet most of the drugs given to babies are administered through cannulas,” Ms Birungi said during an interview last Saturday.
She added that the basic medical machines used at the unit to treat and care for premature babies, including warmers, incubators, and phototherapy machines, are nonfunctional.
She said, initially, the facility had three warmers, but two became faulty and all premature babies admitted have to share one warmer.

Ms Birungi also said the phototherapy machine used in treating babies with jaundice (yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes) also broke down and if children with the condition are admitted, they are immediately referred to Kitovu, a private hospital in Masaka.
A mother found at the unit, who preferred anonymity, said: “Every mother who comes here prays that her baby is put in the warmer first since many cannot afford the exorbitant medical bills in private hospitals.” Dr Albert Kamugisha, a senior pediatrician at the hospital, also decried the shortage of staff to help take care of the big number of babies admitted at the unit.
“We don’t have enough staff to look after the babies admitted,” Dr Kamugisha said before asking government to provide them with funds to repair the faulty machines.

However, Mr Eleazer Mugisha, the hospital’s principal administrator said although the unit is experiencing a number of challenges, management was doing all it can to address them.
He added that when the unit was established in 2013, it was planned for only five babies, but the numbers are overwhelming and now it handles more than 130 babies in a busy month.
“The challenge of supplies is real. We are served by the National Medical Stores on budget and if we get more babies than we planned for, of course supplies have to be affected,” Mr Mugisha said.
About the faulty machines, Mr Mugisha said: “the hospital has procured equipment and very soon the faulty medical apparatus will be repaired.”

editorial@ug.nationmedia.com

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