As Covid-19 cases continue to rise, there has been debate among the public on whether health facilities will be able to handle many patients.
In March, Uganda registered its first coronavirus cases and the numbers have since increased to 696 with 240 recoveries.
Research conducted in 2019 and released in January on the current capacity of Intensive Care Unit (ICUs) in Uganda by Patience Atumanya and others, found that Uganda has 55 functional intensive care beds in the 12 ICUs that are operational whereas two other ICUs were not working due to a lack of medical workers. Only four of the 12 ICUs were in public hospitals.
Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, the Minister of Health, said government has excluded use of general hospitals and health centre IVs for treatment of Covid-19 cases to ensure continuity of care with regular services without disruption.
Ministry of Health had estimated and prepared 3,200 isolation beds and 378 ICU beds at national referral hospitals, regional referral hospitals, general hospitals and health centre IVs.
“The Ministry of Health is now in the process of expanding additional bed capacity at national referral hospitals and regional referral hospitals using mobile hospitals in open spaces next to the hospitals for auxiliary care,” Dr Aceng said on Saturday.
Currently, 300 beds have been added to Mulago Hospital bringing the capacity to 400 beds dedicated for Covid-19 treatment.
“Once construction works of the facility is complete, the bed capacity will be further expanded to the full capacity of the hospital that stands at 900 beds. Mulago intensive care unit is ready with 36 adult and 27 paediatric ICU beds,” she said.
Dr Aceng said each of the fourteen and two national referral hospitals have prepared 30 isolation beds giving a total of 480 beds and each of the hospitals is now being equipped with 10 ICU beds bringing the total to 160 ICU beds across regional referral hospitals.
“The evacuation of women’s hospital has begun to pave way to provide 450 beds with 35 adult and 30 paediatric ICU beds. The Ministry of Health plans to increase the capacity of 13 regional referral hospitals by erecting a 270 bed mobile hospital per regional referral. This will create an additional 3,510 beds across the country,” Dr Aceng elaborated.
“The President has guided us to prepare for the worst case scenario by ensuring availability of 40,000 beds by setting up mobile hospitals with 300 beds each and training adequate numbers of health workers to man them. Preparations for this process has started,” Dr Aceng explained.
Meanwhile, following the specialist’s guidance, at least 108 ventilators have arrived in the country and are currently being installed in various isolation facilities to support Covid-19 response.