KAMPALA – Members of the House on the Western Region cluster of the Parliament Covid-19 Taskforce have recommended the need to open all capable health centres to the treatment of Covid-19.
In Bundibugyo, the team met Dr Loyce Kabbyanga of Bwera Health Centre III in Kasese which like all such other health centres has no permission to treat Covid-19, instead acting as points of testing and confirmation, then referring to regional referral hospitals.
This, observed MP Francis Mwijukye (FDC, Buhweju County), burdens the referral units and unnecessarily mystifies the pandemic, making it more difficult to fight.
Dr Kabbyanga’s team treats patients from the Democratic Republic of Congo as well as those from Kasese, but was denied allowances for treating Covid-19 cases and instead reprimanded by Ministry of Health.
“As per Ministry of Health guidelines, all persons positive for Covid-19 should be referred to regional referral hospitals, but that sometimes is not practical. We have one ambulance and most of the cases report when they are already severe and circulating at very low levels, necessitating treatment,” she said.
But her superiors at the Ministry would not have any of that, and demanded that she apologises in writing.
The team then assessed Bundibugyo, Kasese, Sheema, Bushenyi and Rukungiri districts health facilities, where health workers continue to decry the inadequacy of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) making them vulnerable to Covid-19 infections, and small but eternally delayed allowances for the risks associated with treating the disease.
At Nyakibale Hospital, a private Catholic establishment, MPs concluded that there is need to open up Covid-19 treatment, because the facility, albeit being privately owned, showcased immense abilities to host Covid-19 patients, but have been stopped by bureaucracy.
MPs promised to make a case for them at Parliament and with the Ministry of Health.
MP Dr Nicholas Kamara (FDC, Kabale Municipality), whose immediate former employer was Nyakibale Hospital, said it is wrong to keep exclusivity to hospitals on diseases control, saying by allowing all health centres to handle the pandemic, nationwide capacity would be created to handle worse-case scenarios.
Already, he said, Ministry of Health officials have failed to implement a presidential directive to prepare 42,000 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds to enhance national preparedness to deal with the full length of the pandemic.
Led by MP Dr Joseph Ruyonga (NRM, Hoima West), the taskforce proceeds to Mbarara and Kabale Districts.