By Tonny Abet
The Ministry of Health has said it has completed installing Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds in five of the 19 targeted hospitals and that all the facilities will have been equipped by October.This exercise is aimed at preparing the country to handle the rising Covid-19 cases as cumulative total cases now stand at 4,978 with 56 deaths. The ministry says the drive will also increase access to intensive care for patients suffering from other conditions.Dr Charles Olaro, the director of clinical services (curative) at the ministry told Daily Monitor yesterday that each hospital is getting at least 10 ICU beds.The director said 145 beds are currently available to be installed and the country already had 135 ICU beds in different health facilities before the Covid-19 pandemic struck.“We have completed Jinja hospital, Lira hospital, Entebbe Grade B hospital, Naguru hospital and St Mary’s hospital, Lacor,” he said.Dr Olaro said their team in western Uganda is installing additional beds in Mbarara and Kabale Hospitals. “In addition to these ICUs, we are also giving them oxygen equipment. Most (Covid-19) patients are moderate cases and they do not need to be put into the ventilator. They just need oxygen, which is done in the high dependency unit. You can still have other patients in usual (hospital) beds and give them oxygen. All you need is oxygen equipment,” he explained.Dr Olaro said most of the facilities already had ICUs and this is simply meant to increase capacity.He said Jinja hospital already had six ICU beds but they added 10 more beds to the hospital while Lacor hospital in Gulu had eight beds but more were added to them.Dr Diana Atwine, the Permanent Secretary of the Health ministry on August 28 tweeted that the beds arrived in the country on August 27.“We have a clear maintenance plan for this equipment (ICU beds). It is no longer business as usual,” she added.A previous national assessment by Makerere University researchers found that the country is facing a severe shortage of medical personnel to handle Covid-19 cases and those working in existing ICUs lack specialised training.“There are 171 ICU nurses countrywide, of whom 13 had formal training in critical care nursing,” the researchers wrote in the report titled ‘assessment of the current capacity of intensive care units in Uganda.’The researchers said some ICUs had only one nurse taking care of up to eight patients in critical conditions.However, according to the head of clinical services, the ministry is addressing these challenges.“We have recruited people who have got training in critical care nursing to operate the units,” Dr Olaro said, adding that the ministry is also training more 400 nurses in critical care nursing either on job or through school.
LIST OF HOSPITALS TO RECEIVE EQUIPMENTJinja Hospital, Lira Hospital, St Mary’s Lacor Hospital, Entebbe Grade B hospital, Naguru Hospital, Mbarara hospital and Kabale hospital.Others include Arua hospital, Fort Portal hospital, Gulu hospital, Hoima hospital, Masaka hospital, Mbale hospital, Moroto hospital, Mubende hospital, Soroti hospital, Kawempe hospital, Bombo hospital, and Mulago hospital.