The Ministry of Health has revealed plans to expand the neonatal special care unit at Kawempe National Referral hospital following a photo that went viral on various social networks showing about six newly born babies placed on plastic chairs as a result of shortage of equipment such as incubators, baby cots and infant warmers to hold the babies.
The photo raised concern among Ugandans on social media, with many stating that the condition puts the babies at a high risk of dying. Others called on authorities to make an intervention saying such an incident was unacceptable at a national hospital that offers specialized health care.
In the wake of the concerns, the Ministry of Health has issued a statement admitting that Kawempe is overwhelmed by patient numbers.
“The Ministry of Health would like to acknowledge the overwhelming patient numbers at Kawempe National Referral Hospital. This follows an investigation to verify pictures of new born babies circulating on social media,” the Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.
The health facility delivers an average of 80 to 100 babies daily and 2,500 babies monthly which translates to approximately 30,000 babies per year.
The Ministry says the high patient numbers are as a result of the increased number of referrals from the lower health facilities around Kampala, Wakiso, Mukono and other parts of the country.
“However, the Ministry of Health is aware of this challenge and working with the hospital management, solutions have been put in place to address this issue”.
The interventions will include expansion of the neonatal special care unit at Kawempe National Referral Hospital. The Ministry says engineers are on site to assess the modalities required to expand the special care unit in order to cater for the high number of patients.
In addition, government will procure equipment such as; additional incubators, infant warmers, phototherapy machines and baby cots.
“Some babies have been transferred to the special care unit at the Mulago Specialized Women and Neonatal Hospital as an interim solution to the current challenge of overwhelming numbers,” the statement added.
The Ministry has also appealed referred women to go to Mulago Specialized Women and Neonatal Hospital and access free services.
“The Ministry of Health is engaging Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) and the neighboring Local Governments to ensure that the health facilities are functionalized to full capacity to curb the high referral numbers”.
“The Ministry of Health would like to state that the pictures circulating on social media do not depict the actual situation on ground. The babies at this facility are in a temperature controlled environment and infection, prevention and control measures are adhered to ensuring there is no danger to the babies’ lives”.