Health workers at risk as hospitals run out of PPEs

Health care workers attend to a patient at Mulago Hospital last week. Shortage of PPEs is hindering the fight against Covid-19. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • At least 2,299 health workers have tested positive to Covid-19 since the first case was reported in the country in March last year.

Health workers in public hospitals and other facilities across the country are struggling to attend to Covid-19 patients due to limited personal protective equipment (PPEs).

At least 2,299 health workers have tested positive to Covid-19 since the first case was reported in the country in March last year.

While officially government has put the figures of deaths among health centres at 28, sources within the ministry say more than 60 health workers have succumbed to the dreaded disease.

“As of June 12, we had recorded 2,299 infections among health workers. Ministry of Health says 28 deaths have been registered but some in private facilities may have been missed. The number is much higher,” the source said.

At Tororo District General Hospital, the authorities say the surging number of positive cases among health workers is worrying.

According to the updates presented by the Tororo Resident District Commissioner, Mr Nickson Owole, the cumulative cases of health workers stand at 79 of the total 1,130 cases in the district.

He attributed it to lack of protective equipment that exposes health workers to high risk of infection.
At Nyakarongo Health Centre III in Kyenjojo District, the facility in-charge, Mr John Kusemerwa, said PPEs are not enough for their 12 health workers.

“The Ministry of Health told us that our health workers should put on double masks every day but what we do here is we give them one single mask and shield mask, if there is a chance for the government to supply us more PPEs, we need more,” Mr Kusemerwa said.

In Ntoroko District, the public health specialist, Mr Patrick Byaruhanga, said currently the area lacks the N-95 masks for doctors, gloves and face shield for health workers.

The Fort Portal Regional Referral Hospital administrator, Dr Luis Muhindo, said they receive more patients and what is supplied gets exhausted very fast.

In Bunyangabu, the district health officer, Dr Richard Obeti, said they don’t have enough facemasks for health workers.
“We are risking our staff that are doing surveillance and collecting Covid-19 samples,” Dr Obeti said. Across Lango Sub-region, most of the government health facilities do not have PPEs for health workers.

The in-charge of Anyangatir Health Centre III in Lira City East Division, Mr Patrick Obok, said they have not received any supplies from the Ministry of Health.

However, in Hoima, the district disease surveillance officer, Mr Fred Kugonza, said they recently received a new stock of protective gear.

Across eastern Uganda in Kamuli District, Dr Saidi Atuma, the medical superintendent of Kamuli hospital, said the big number of patients is putting a strain on the available supplies.

The Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital director, Dr Celestine Barigye, said they are grappling with huge numbers of patients. “We have written to the ministry to get us around 20 more personnel so that we can at least increase our capacity,” he said.

The Ministry of Health yesterday said the National Medical Stores has supplied PPEs to majority of the health facilities .
Mr Emmanuel Ainebyoona, the senior spokesperson of the ministry, said:“We have enough PPEs and we continue to supply them. Normally when they requisition, NMS supplies. Maybe some of these that do not have the PPEs have not requisitioned.” 

Reported by Franklin Draku, Alex Ashaba, Ismail Bategeka, Logino Muhindo & Andrew Mugati, Alex Tumuhimbise, Denis Edema, Francis Mugerwa, Felix Ainebyoona, Opio Sam Caleb, Bill Oketch & Patrick Ebong