Kasese grapples with health, sanitation issues after floods

Thursday August 06 2020
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A boy crosses a makeshift bridge over River Nyamwamba in Kasese District on July 29. PHOTO/ EVA MUGAGA

Three months after Kasese District was hit by floods that, among others, destroyed roads, schools and health centres, authorities are faced with humanitarian challenges.
More than 10,000 people were displaced by the floods and some primary schools, which include Bulembia and Kyanjuki, were submerged. Kilembe Hospital was also submerged while roads and bridges were damaged.

The May floods hit the district after five rivers burst their banks following days of torrential rains.
Government then delivered some relief items to support the displaced persons and promised more interventions, which are yet to be fulfilled.

As a result, several people are living in camps where they are facing serious health, financial and sanitation challenges.

Daily Monitor at the weekend Kanyangeya, Nkaiga and Kiraro primary schools that are host to thousands of displaced families.

Kilembe Mines Hospital was immensely affected by the floods and was later relocated to Kasese Town where it is hosted by Kasese Catholic Diocese. This has denied residents of Kilembe the much needed health services. They now have to trek long distances in search of better health services.

Mr Deogratius Isemamba, the chairperson of Namuhuga Ward in Bulembia Division, Kasese Municipality, said close to 100 families are camped at Kanyangeya Primary School, which is congested while pregnant mothers struggle to access health facilities due to the impassable roads that were affected by the floods.

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“Going to Kasese Town for better health facilities is such a long distance and we have cases of people dying along the way. The situation has been made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic where transport was restricted,” Mr Allan Kambale, a resident of Namuhuga Ward, said.

Transport challenges
Ms Asinet Kabugho, another resident, said the damaged bridges have worsened their transport challenges.

“People of Mburakasaka have to wade through the water when going home and to tend to their gardens. The sick are transported by ambulances, which are not easily available, besides being unaffordable,” she said.

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Some of the community members trained by Malteser international demonstrate how to handle emergencies in Kasese town on July 29,2020. Photos by Eve Muganga

Mr Julius Mucunguzi, the public relations officer in the Office of the Prime Minister, said the government is aware of the situation and is taking action.

“Some of the interventions are long term but haven’t been implemented due to limited resources. Also constructing a hospital takes some time,” he said.

As a way of intervention, Malteser International, a humanitarian relief agency, has partnered with local leaders to transport patients from Kilembe to Kasese Town for treatment.
Malteser International works with the Prime Minister’s office and ministry of Health to offer relief and recovery aid.

They have extended help amounting to 200,000 euros for a period of three months towards helping flood victims. They have also extended outreach services in Kilembe where doctors travel to villages to offer treatment every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

“We go there to provide antenatal, immunisation and postnatal services” Dr Edward Wafula, the medical superintendent at Kilembe Mines Hospital, said.

He said they are overwhelmed by the number of patients turning up for treatment. “Ever since we relocated to Kasese Town, we receive many patients compared to those we received while in Kilembe and there are modalities we have put in place to ensure that all people get health services from this place,” Dr Wafula said.

Ms Laura Beutler, the technical coordinator for Malteser International in Uganda, said the largest hospital in Kasese has had to be evacuated, leaving people there without much-needed medical care.

“We have been sending ambulances and our medical team in support of health facilities in the district. Lack of urgent medical care would be catastrophic especially under the present circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic,” she said.

She also noted that to prevent the possible coronavirus infection in the area, they have provided daily access to clean water to people affected by the flooding in Kasese District. They have also cared for about 270 mothers who had complicated deliveries.

“Some of the babies weren’t in good condition and our team managed to deliver them to health centre IV to acquire more medical services. However, eight of the born babies were delivered from within ambulances by our emergency medical team since some of them were picked from distant places,” Ms Beutler said.

“For the period of three months we have so far spent in Kasese providing support to the community, we have trained and passed out 23 people including health workers and ambulance drivers on how to respond to emergency cases and also provide emergency medical services,” she added.

She observed the need for capacity building in pre-hospital care so that residents can be trained to handle emergencies before acquiring health services from hospitals.

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Emergency medical service team under Malteser international helping a man from garden to cross River Nyamwamba in Kasese.

Background

Kasese was hit by devastating floods on three occasions in May, which left four people dead, several injured and others displaced from their homes. This, however, is not the first time this happens. The last severe flash flooding occurred on the three main rivers; Nyamwamba, Nyamughasana and Mubuku on May 1, 2013 destroying infrastructure valued at Shs50b.

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