Patients abandon health centre over Covid deaths

Thursday June 24 2021
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Budaka Health Centre IV. PHOTO | MUDANGHA KOLYANGHA

By Mudangha Kolyangha

Residents have abandoned Budaka Health Centre IV in Budaka District after four patients reportedly succumbed to Covid-19 at the facility.

Dr John Wogabaga, the in-charge of the facility, told Daily Monitor on Tuesday that following the deaths, in-patients requested to be discharged before their actual time.

The deaths happened on Monday, causing a stampede as patients and caretakers rushed with their beddings and other property out of the facility.

But Dr Wogabaga condemned the move by the patients and their caretakers.

“It is true the patients died of Covid -19 but there is no need for the patients and locals to abandon the facility. This is their facility and it’s still functional,” he said.

Dr Wogabaga, however, said the facility is ill equipped to manage the rising cases of Covid-19 due to lack of oxygen and personal protective gear, among others.

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“We don’t have an isolation ward, no oxygen and personal protective equipment. So handling such cases is challenging and it is putting the lives of health workers at a greater risk,” he said.

When Daily Monitor visited the facility on Tuesday, it found out that only the maternity ward had patients but the out-patient department [OPD] and the general ward were empty.

The health facility, which is located on Mbale-Tirinyi highway, on a normal day receives between 500 and 800 patients.

Mr Moses Mukama, a resident, said there is panic in the community following the Covid-19 deaths at the health centre.

“Many people, especially the business community and other town dwellers, have retreated to their homes,” he said.

Mr Nasur Masaba, the district Covid-19 surveillance officer, said the area had registered a total of 132 positive cases by June 21, with five cases admitted to ICU.

“We have also registered four deaths within the district,” he said. The district Covid-19 taskforce has identified Budaka, Kamonkoli, Mugiti and Kameruka sub-counties as the hotspots for Covid-19 where three of every10 people tested turn out to be positive.

Mr Masaba warned that the situation might escalate if the communities refuse to adhere to the standard operating procedures, especially during burials. The Budaka Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Mr Tom Chesol, has directed all the sub-county chiefs and sub-county chairpersons to reactivate task force meetings in order to battle the increasing cases in the area.

Mr Chesol said although the district is currently grappling with lack of funds, the sub-county task forces should immediately resume their activities.

“My investigations indicate that some bars, markets, churches and schools are still operating illegally despite the ban by the President,” he said. 

Many Ugandans, who were from abroad last year, faced several challenges, including social stigma because they were associated with the spread of the dreaded Covid-19 pandemic in the country.

Many went into unintended seclusion and self-isolation because of fear of attacks by locals who viewed them as agents of spread of the virus.

The situation has improved in the current second wave of the pandemic but concerns remain.

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