Mothers stranded after Teso health unit closes

Some of the patients who were bounced yesterday at Teso Safe Motherhood facility in Soroti City.  Photo | George Muron

What you need to know:

  • Management  says  the facility has been closed temporarily but residents say they are not aware. They want to know whether or not it will be reopened.

Mothers and other patients who have been seeking maternal health care, family planning, and other related health services are stranded after the closure of Teso safe motherhood facility.

This private facility, located on Ajena Road at Cell H, Senior Quarters Ward in Soroti City West Division, was allegedly closed last Friday without warning or explanation to users.

However, one of the staff who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of being victimised, said the facility has been temporarily closed for four months until January 2024 due to accountability queries.

Dr Nicholas Okwana, the chairperson board of directors of Teso Safe Motherhood facility, yesterday told this publication by telephone that they had not closed the facility but the services were temporarily suspended to give room for the management to settle some differences.

“It’s not closed. If it was closed we could have announced it publicly. There are just a few things we are ironing and I am not going to disclose until we finalise everything,” Dr Okwana said.

He, however, declined to disclose the issues being ironed, when the facility might be reopened, among others.

Martin Oteger, the director of Finance and administration at Teso Safe Motherhood centre, when contacted for a comment said he was busy clearing certain issues in Kampala and would give details about the state of the facility later on.

However, he had not provided details by press time.

The facility has been offering free services to vulnerable populations in Teso Sub-region.

They also provided HIV testing and counselling services.

Yesterday, a gatekeeper bounced more than 20 expectant mothers who went to seek antenatal care services and mothers who took their sick babies for medical care.

Ms Martha Akello, a mother of two from Omulala in Asuret Sub-county, Soroti, who had taken her baby for treatment said the closure of the facility is detrimental to the poor.

“This facility has been helpful; they have been providing maternal health care services free of charge and even when mothers under their care go to deliver they provide free mama kits,” Ms Akello said.

Ms Betty Ajalo of Ojuloi in Omulala Parish, Gweri Sub-county said the management first started by adjourning the schedules with clients before the closure.

Another mother with a seven-month-old baby, Ms Ketty Anyumel from Osimailing Village in Aukot Sub-county, said most pregnant women will resort to traditional birth attendants (TBAs) due to long distances to government facilities. She added that nurses and midwives at Teso Safe Motherhood facility are professional.

“When you go there, the workers welcome you and treat you with honour, respect and dignity but at the government health facility, the nurses and midwives are tough, corrupt, and they insult mothers,” Ms Alum said.

Mr William Opio, a boda boda cyclist and a resident of Gweri Sub-county in Soroti District, who was also bounced with his wife yesterday, said management should inform clients about what has happened.

Ms Bernadette Akol, a businesswoman who has been selling fresh food items and vegetables on the roadside next to the facility, said she is making losses.

“I used to sell my items well before the closure of that facility because the hospital clients used to buy but since then, when they closed, the business has stagnated, and no buyers are coming,” Ms Akol said.

Mr Patrick Asonya, the chairperson of Cell H Village, Senior Quarters Ward said that the facility that has been hosting a big population of clients has been a scarecrow against criminals in his area.

Mr Moses Amolo, the health inspector of Soroti City, said although he had heard about the facility’s closure, he could not comment because he did not have authentic information.