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Govt seeks Shs700bn for oxygen in referral hospitals

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Media reports last week indicated that three babies died due to lack of oxygen at Kawempe Referral Hospital, which is currently handling Mulago National Referral Hospital’s obstetrics and gynecology department.

Dr Aceng

The Ministry of Health needs an additional UGX700 million for 14 regional referral hospitals and health centre IVs to cater for maintenance of oxygen plants.

Appearing before the parliamentary Committee on Health on Wednesday, the Minister for Health, Dr Ruth Aceng, said with the funds and better oxygen plants, there would be a reduction in deaths due to lack of oxygen.

The Minister made this clarification after MPs raised concern following the death of babies as reported in media on last week.

Media reports last week indicated that three babies died due to lack of oxygen at Kawempe Referral Hospital, which is currently handling Mulago National Referral Hospital’s obstetrics and gynecology department.

According to the reports, the three pre-term babies died after the oxygen in the cylinder they were sharing got used up.

Aceng clarified that the babies did not die due to lack of oxygen but due to an accident that occurred while switching the oxygen cylinders.

“It was unfortunate that a mother lost two children. The process of changing the oxygen cylinders from one to the other and disinfectant medication for premature babies was lacking at that time,” she said.

Although general hospitals, regional and national referral hospitals have continued to make major contributions to essential clinical care in Uganda, numerous reports–including those of the MoH–are awash with the stark reality of lack of drugs, absence of the often inadequate health workers, delays in accessing health care services even at referral hospitals, and neglect of patients who manage to access the health care facilities, resulting into avoidable deaths among other problems.

The total number of hospitals (public and private) in Uganda is 155. Of these 2 are National Referral Hospitals (Mulago and Butabika), 14 are Regional Referral Hospitals (RRHs) and 139 are General Hospitals (GHs). In terms of ownership, 65 are government owned, 63 PNFP and 27 are private.

The 139 GHs in the country provide: preventive, promote outpatient curative, maternity, inpatient, emergency surgery and blood transfusion and laboratory services.

Health has for long been recognized as a fundamental human right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

By ratifying many of the international and regional human rights instruments, Uganda has committed itself to providing sufficient resources and establishing a comprehensive health care framework that meets the health needs of the citizens.

Indeed, it has been widely acknowledged that during the post‐independence era (1962‐1971), Uganda was one of the countries in Africa with the best health indices and a vibrant health care system which functions to all four tiers.

The four tier health care system provides for: primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary health care. This once functional and efficient health care system was short lived due to decades of civil unrest and political instability that led to the collapse of the system.

Hospitals are major contributors to outputs of essential clinical care and take up a large volume of human and financial resources. In the financial year 2014 /15 almost similar to the year before, hospitals produced 54% of all inpatient admissions, 19% of total outpatients, and 36% of all deliveries.

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