Uganda Health Sector: Alarm as public hospitals run out of medical supplies
Meanwhile, some hospitals in Uganda have run out of essential medicine and supplies needed for emergency operations. Authorities says the shortages are affecting mainly pregnant mothers -- who urgently need surgery. CGTN's Isabel Nakirya reports.
It's been a difficult three days for Marian Achieng.
Her patient was admitted to the emergency ward of the National Referral hospital in Uganda's Capital - Kampala. But despite his condition, getting immediate treatment wasn't easy.
MARIAN ACHIENG CAREGIVER TO PATIENT "But he couldn't be put on the list that day. There were a lot of people to undergo surgery so he was rescheduled for the next day but even then the next day, we waited till 1:30 am and his condition was getting worse and he needed oxygen which also took a while."
The patient underwent surgery to remove an inflammation in his stomach and is now recovering but accessing drugs is still a problem.
MARIAN ACHIENG CAREGIVER TO PATIENT "So we had to buy more gloves, pain killers, injections. Then we bought them, and we were told the nurse will come around to administer the drugs."
Her patient, is among thousands in Uganda who are not able to receive essential drugs from the country's public hospitals because of a shortage. The Uganda Medical Association says pregnant mothers in need of emergency care are at risk.
DR. EKWARO OBUKU PRESIDENT, UGANDA MEDICAL ASSOCIATION "These are essential supplies that Doctors need to attend to most affected group like mothers who need operations, as you know labour can come any time. In fact one of the mothers came in late and could not go out to private pharmacies to buy medicines and supplies and unfortunately lost her baby."
The Health Ministry attributes the problem to poor coordination between the government agency responsible for supplying drugs and the health facilities, which they say is being rectified.
ISABEL NAKIRYA KAMPALA, UGANDA "It's not new that public hospitals in Uganda are running out of essential supplies. Medical workers have routinely complained about lack of medicines and much needed medical supplies. And these are some of the reasons that doctors have gone on strike quite often."
But the country's health budget is also not enough. This financial year the government allocated only $600 million dollars to health care.
SARA OPENDI MINISTER OF HEALTH, UGANDA "Its true these hospitals had run out of supplies but when there are no supplies there is really not much the hospitals can do but you should also know that government drugs, funds available can only procure about 48% of the total drug requirement for our public facilities, so people need to chip in."
Most private hospitals in Uganda are not affordable for the largely poor population. They access treatment from public facilities, which are in most cases poorly equipped. And for now, patients will have to hang in there, hoping the situation improves. Isabel Nakirya, CGTN, Kampala.