Kasese expectant women brave the national park to deliver in hospitals

Despite having health centres at six of the landing sites in Kasese District, these centres lack basic facilities, prompting patients to trek long distances to seek better facilities.

Friday August 22 2014

 Patients take shelter under trees during the health workers’ strike

Patients take shelter under trees during the health workers’ strike over unpaid salary arrears in Kasese District last year. Health centres at landing sites in the district lack essential services. Photo by Misairi Thembo Kahungu 

By Misairi Thembo Kahungu

The picture that landing sites in Uganda creates in the mind of citizens is not a rosy one.

The landing sites in Kasese District are no exception. Six in number, Hamukungu, Kasenyi, Kahendero, Katunguru, Katwe and Kayanzi landing sites are lagging behind in service delivery. All the six are spread across Lakes George, Edward and Kazinga Channel.

Aside from other infrastructure, health service delivery at these sites is in a poor state compared to what the communities on the mainland receive.

Currently, it is only Katwe Landing Site (doubling as Katwe-Kabatoro Town Council) and Kasenyi Landing Site that have health centre IIIs where the communities can access maternity and Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) services.

Such remains a dream for Kayanzi, Kahendero, Katunguru and Hamukungu landing sites. Most of the big health cases in these landing sites are taken to Bwera, Kagando and Kilembe hospitals, which are between 40 and 50kms away.

In addition to the long distances, people have to brave the risks that come with moving through Queen Elizabeth National Park.

According to Mr Peter Kakule, the chairperson of the Beach Management Unit at Kayanzi Landing Site on Lake Edward, expectant mothers are rushed through the national park to Bwera Hospital when in labour.

Danger of elephants
They sometimes face obstacles along the way such as herds of elephants since the motorcycle is the main means of transport. However, the health centre II is rendering other services well.

“In Kayanzi, the health centre nowadays has staff and the drugs are delivered on time, but the biggest challenge is still lack of maternity facilities. The same challenge is faced by our people with HIV/Aids,” Mr Kakule said.

At Hamukungu Health Centre II in Lake Katwe Sub-county, Ms Nyesi Biira, a midwife, seems to be redundant. She is like a servant sent to the garden without a hoe to dig.

She says the health centre does not have maternity facilities where women can deliver from.

Her work is only limited to antenatal care to expectant women after which she refers them to a hospital for delivery. In most cases, they do not heed and opt for the Traditional Birth Attendants arguing that the hospitals are far away, she says.

Long queues
“I am not busy like I was in Kasangali health centre in Bwesumbu Sub-county where pregnant women for delivery overwhelmed me. Here, there is no maternity ward. I only sit and wait for Thursday when a handful of women come for antenatal care moreover without their husbands,” Ms Nyesi says.

According to Mr Yusuf Mawazo, the national programmes coordinator for Uganda Fish and Fisheries Conservation Association, much as the landing sites in all parts of the country are a little bit similar in nature, those is Kasese District are lagging behind on all government services because they are hard-to-reach.
Mr Mawazo said in addition to having bad roads, some of the landing sites have no clean water, poor sanitation projects and lack of access to modern public latrines.

He cites an example of Kayanzi Landing Site where the only public latrine constructed by the local government was abandoned due to shoddy work about four years ago.

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