Namutumba health centre overwhelmed by patients

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By RONALD SEEBE

NAMUTUMBA. Namutumba Health Centre III is struggling to contain the swelling number of patients from within and outside the community.

According to last year’s records obtained from the health department, a total of 156,628 patients were attended to in the facility’s out-patient department alone; while 20,643 patients were admitted at the health centre. Both figures are ‘way beyond’ the capacity of the facility, health and district officials say.

Namutumba Health Centre III serves as a district referral hospital and receives patients from within and outside the district.
Ms Goretti Kyebajja, the in-charge, says the facility needs to be upgraded to the level of Health Centre 1V to give more services in addition to expansion of the building and recruitment of more staff.

“We noticed a problem of increasing number of patients which we have been grappling with for three years and we have requested for an increase in the budget funding and a Health Centre IV to accommodate the ever increasing number of patients,” she says.

Ms Kyebajja further notes that the district only has one Health Centre IV at Nsinze even as all health centre IIs and IIIs in the district keep referring patients to this facility because Nsinze is very far to some patients.
“Namutumba Health Centre III being on Iganga-Mbale Road makes it convenient to access for patients coming from the districts of Mbale, Kibuku, Butaleja and Kaliro,” Ms Kyebajja says.

Mr Richard Ndhaye, a clinical officer, says last year, a total of 2,231 patients were referred to the facility and yet they have limited staff, accommodation, equipment and budget.
“The limited budget of the facility is being affected by the ever increasing number of patients from the sub-counties with no health centre III,” he says, adding that the reluctance by authorities to elevate it to a health centre IV is taking a significant toll on the facility especially in terms of workload to staff.

“We offer services according to the level of the facility. But the challenge we always get is that patients come and demand for services which are supposed to be offered at a health centre 1V,” he says.
Amid the increasing number of patients, he says the facility lacks a standby generator to supply power when power goes off, forcing them to resort to candles.

“We are forced to use candles in the maternity ward when power goes off. This affects the newly-born babies. It is not good but we are helpless,” he explains.
The area Member of Parliament, Mr Paul Akamba, says plans to have the health centre III elevated to health centre IV are underway.
“We are also fighting hard to see that the supply of drugs is increased to suit the intake of the patients in the facility,” he says.

The Namutumba Town Council LC3 chairperson, Mr Godfrey Mwembe, says council passed a resolution to elevate the unit to a health centre IV following the outcry of health workers.
“As Town Council, we did our part. It is the relevant ministries and our Parliament to see that people’s concerns are positively addressed for good service delivery,” Mr Mwembe says.

Tabled issue
But the district chairperson, Hajj Saleh Kumbuga, says the issue of elevating Namutumba Health Centre III to IV was tabled in one of the District Council meetings and the request was sent to the Ministry of Health explaining the challenges faced by the facility.
“We have made several requests but the challenge is that we have another health centre IV in Busiki constituency which is making it hard for us to have another health centre IV,” he says.

Currently, the bed capacity at the facility stands at 10 and only has one clinical officer and four nurses.
Health workers on their part blame the district authorities and the Ministry of Health for the delay to elevate the facility to a health centre IV, a request they maintain was made ‘much earlier’. The facility receives 200,000 patients annually, twice its capacity.

Issues
Capacity. Currently, the bed capacity at the facility stands at 10 which is not enough to accommodate the ever-increasing patients, cognizant that it only has one clinical officer and four nurses.
Blame. Health workers on their part, blame the district authorities and the Ministry of Health for the delay to elevate the facility to a health centre IV, a request they maintain was made ‘much earlier’.

Voices

“The best we can do is to lobby for funds for the facility so that it can be fully equipped to serve the ever-increasing population in the district,” Hajj Saleh Kumbuga, district chairperson.

“We are doing our best to see that the facility is improved and elevated to a level where patients will be served. The issue of drugs getting finished in a single day is as a result of increasing patients,” Mr Paul Akamba, area Member of Parliament.

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