Leaders want Nebbi Hospital turned into referral facility

Patient attendants at Nebbi Hospital recently. The district leaders want it upgraded to a regional referral hospital due to the lack of specialised treatment. PHOTO / FELIX WAROM OKELLO

What you need to know:

  • The hospital is overwhelmed by the increasing population, which comes from as far as DR Congo and neighbouring districts yet it cannot offer specialised treatment.

Leaders in Nebbi District have tasked the government to elevate Nebbi Hospital to a regional referral facility if it is to provide holistic healthcare.

The hospital is overwhelmed by the increasing population, which comes from as far as DR Congo and neighbouring districts yet it cannot offer specialised treatment.

Speaking to MPs on the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) who were touring the facility on Wednesday, Mr Emmanuel Urombi, the district chairperson, said the hospital offers few services because it has few specialists.

“We feel it is the right time for the government to pay special attention to elevating Nebbi to a referral hospital if the facility is to provide holistic, quality and equitable health services that meet the needs of the community,” he said.

The hospital serves Zombo, Pakwach, Madi Okollo, and neighbouring DR Congo. Madi-Okollo, Pakwach and Zombo only have health centres and private hospitals like St Luke Nyapea, making the districts mainly dependent on Nebbi Hospital.

The hospital was opened in May 1973 and served a catchment population of 36,637 by then, but it now serves more than 450,000 people.

The hospital’s medical superintendent, Dr Jackline Akello, said many services cannot be accessed because of lack of specialists.

She said once a patient fails to get services such as specialised surgeries, they refer them to either Arua, Mulago or Gulu hospitals, which demoralises patients because of the far distance and poverty.

“If we could have more services here, it will cut cost for transport, accommodation and feeding for patients who are referred far away,” Dr Akello said.

The district Woman MP, Ms Agnes Acibu, said the growing population has caused congestion at the hospital.

“We need to constantly lobby government to consider the demand by the leaders to elevate the hospital if lives of our people are to be saved,’’ she said.

The chairperson of PAC, Mr Asuman Basalirwa, lauded the district leaders for exhibiting teamwork, being organised, and transparent.

“This gives them a good base to advocate for a referral hospital, which will reduce pressure of other referral hospitals such as Arua that is already overwhelmed,”  Mr Basalirwa said.

Health sector strategic plan

According to a 2011 policy and objective of the health sector strategic and investment plan on health infrastructure development, upgrading of a health unit is to provide a network of functional, efficient and sustainable health infrastructure within 5km walking distance to every homestead.

Dr Ruth Aceng, the Health Minister, said there has been a mismatch between investments in health infrastructure and other components of the health services delivery which need to be harmonised. Services offered at a regional referral hospital include psychiatry, Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT), ophthalmology, dentistry, intensive care, radiology, and pathology, among other health services.

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