Last Wednesday, a team of 15 orthopaedics under their umbrella body, Orthopaedics Society of Uganda, were at Gulu Regional Referral Hospital for a week-long surgical camp.
Nurses could be seen wheeling patients from the theatre to the wards after operations. During the camp, a total of 150 patients underwent bone operations, both at the facility and St Mary’s Hospital, Lacor.
However, the visiting doctors were shocked to learn that the referral hospital carries out operations without anaesthetics.
Anaesthetics are drugs used during surgical operations to numb sensation in certain areas of the body or induce sleep. This prevents pain and discomfort, and enables a wide range of medical procedures to be carried out.
According to Dr Daniel Obua, an expert from Makerere University School of Health Sciences, the lack of anaesthetics at the hospital needs urgent attention.
“There are inadequate anaesthetic drugs and equipment, including those for managing severe pain during and after surgery,” Dr Obua said in an interview last week.
He added that as a result, many patients are wallowing in pain following surgery since only weak pain killers are available at the hospital.
Dr Obua added that the hospital theatre does not have a refrigerator to preserve certain drugs that have a short lifespan.
“Poor storage of drugs due to lack of a refrigerator in the theatre has led to decreased potency and wastage since they have to be dumped,” Dr Obua added.
Dr David Turyamumanya, the hospital director, admitted that the theatre is not well equipped but said the challenge is being addressed. He explained that all the challenges arising from the theatre are as a result of the indiscipline of staff.