KAMPALA: Ministry of Health has clarified that only 31 babies have died at Mulago Hospital ever since the closure of Makerere University by President Museveni on November 1.
In a press conference organised yesterday at the Uganda Media Centre to refute earlier claims that 15 babies die at Mulago’s branch in Kawempe every day, Ms Sarah Opendi, the State minister of Health in charge of General Duties, described the allegations as “baseless and a total misrepresentation of facts”.
“Since the withdrawal of Senior House Officers on November 1, 2016 to date, Mulago has unfortunately lost 31 newborns. These deaths were majorly as a result of severe birth asphyxia and complications associated with prematurity,” Ms Opendi said.
She added that following the closure of the University and the subsequent withdrawal of 120 post graduate students, the hospital administration had since re-arranged the workforce at the facility, with a special focus on critical areas like Special Care Unit and Labour Suite.
Earlier, media reports alleged that the closure of Makerere University was responsible for deaths of 15 children per day due to the withdrawal of post graduate students also referred to as Senior House Officers.
However, Ms Opendi refuted the claims saying the hospital had only lost 31 babies at an average of one newborn per month due to unavoidable circumstances.
The Mulago executive director, Dr Byarugaba Baterana, who had escorted the minister, said that the 31 deaths recorded in the month of November were a consequence of late referrals.
“The Postgraduate students are not responsible for the death that happen in Mulago but because mothers came late, the unborn babies in the womb die due to lack of oxygen,” Dr Baterana said.
He added that asphyxia is largely caused by prolonged labour, which is a consequence of late referrals.
Asked to avail statistics of deaths recorded at the facility in previous months, the hesitant Dr Baterana said 56 newborns had died without giving a clear explanation on why the deaths were higher than when the Senior House officers were still around.
He admitted that some gaps created by withdrawal of postgraduate students had led to longer patient waiting hours in the Out Patient Department.
Dr Baterana said that currently, 34 specialists and 5 medical officers are managing the Labour suite while four specialists are attending a special care unit.
“These are backed up by 76 midwives in the labour suite and 20 nurses in the special care unit and the 21 intern doctors,” he said.