What you need to know:
- The district information officer, Mr Zobia Wasswa, explains that they have made all possible efforts to communicate to the Ministry of Health for a possible intervention but they are yet to get any help.
Two fridges meant to store blood at Kitamiiro Health Centre IV in Buvuma District have not been utilised three years after they were supplied by the Ministry of Health.
The Ministry of Health in 2018 supplied the fridges to the health centre that happens to be the top referral facility for the island district.
But Dr Baker Kanyike, the district health officer, says the blood storage fridges have never been used since they can only operate using high power grid that is not accessible at the health facility.
“The two fridges are very important components for a health facility but they have never been used since 2018 when they were supplied. We do not have the power grid on the island that can power the two fridges. We depend on solar energy to power most of the medical equipment,” he explains.
Dr Kanyike says despite alerting the ministry about the matter, nothing has been done, and they have resorted to keeping the fridges.
“We have since stored the two fridges. It is now three years and the two fridges remain idle. It may not be good to have such equipment wait for that time yet we can easily exchange them for the solar-powered fridges through the help of the Ministry of Health,” he clarifies.
The lack of blood storage facilities at the only referral facility for the district partly explains why the health officials there always refer most of the patients who require blood transfusion to Jinja Regional Referral Hospital that is about 38kms away.
“Some of the referrals made are manageable at Katamiiro Health Centre IV but the lack of a functional blood storage facility makes it hard for the medics to handle the patients. We as political leaders have played our part but the government is yet to respond,” Mr Adrian Ddungu the district chairperson, explains.
“The people in government know the situation in Buvuma. We are yet to get connected to the national power grid that can power some of the basic machines at our health facilities. Our prayer is that the government responds to our repeated appeals,” he adds.
The nearest referral hospitals for residents of Buvuma are Kawolo and Jinja hospitals, more than 35kms from Katamiiro Health Centre IV.
Ms Hellen Navuuga, a resident of Katamiiro Village in Buvuma District, describes the hurdles many residents go through to access better health services when referred to the mainland.
“You have to use the boats, sickness has no time frame. When they make a referral simply because the facility has no blood, you need to hire a boat to rush your patient to the mainland. We badly need the blood storage fridges at our facility to save more lives,” she explains.
The district information officer, Mr Zobia Wasswa, explains that they have made all possible efforts to communicate to the Ministry of Health for a possible intervention but they are yet to get any help.
One of the proposals made, according to the information officer, was to have Katamiiro Health Centre IV upgraded to a district hospital to ensure that the facility has more doctors and medical supplies.
When contacted, the ministry of health spokesperson Mr Emmanuel Ainebyoona advised the Buvuma officials to write to the PS ministry of health requesting for a switch for the refrigerators. "Let the district officials write to the PS requesting for a switch so that the services are not affected," he said.
Buvuma District with a population of 89,890 residents, according to the 2014 census, has 52 islands whose service delivery system is hampered by lack of adequate essential services.