The Ministry of Health has said that the dozens of infants who were photographed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Kawempe Hospital, are safe.
The disturbing pictures of babies receiving care on hospital beds and plastic chairs, went viral on various media platforms on Thursday.
"The Ministry of Health is aware of this challenge and working with the hospital, solutions have been put in place to address the issue," a statement that was issued on Thursday reads in part. “The babies at this facility are in a temperature controlled environment and infection, prevention and control measures are adhered to ensuring there is no danger to the babies lives."
Health officials attributed the problem to the “overwhelming number of referrals” the hospital receives from lower health facilities around Kampala, Wakiso, Mukono districts and other parts of the country.
"Kawempe Hospital delivers an average of 80-100 babies daily and 2,500 monthly translating to approximately 30,000 babies per year. Currently, the hospital is home to the directorate of obstetrics and gynaecologists and paediatrics," the statement reads.
In order to overcome the challenge, according to the ministry, plans are underway to expand the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of the hospital and ensure the functionality of lower health facilities to curb high referral numbers.
In the interim, the ministry says, some babies have been transferred to the special care unit of Mulago Specialised Women and Neonatal Hospital.
The statement says that the procurement of additional incubators, infant warmers, phototherapy machines, baby cots for Kawempe Hospital is in progress.
“In the same vein, referred women are encouraged to go to Mulago Specialised Women and Neonatal Hospital and access FREE services. The Ministry of Health is engaging Kampala Capital City Authority and the neighbouring local governments to ensure that the health facilities are functionalised to full capacity to curb the high referral numbers,” the statement says.