Healthcare services, diseases and related issues.
The general state of basic healthcare services in Uganda as a whole, are in a dire situation, broadly speaking. Healthcare infrastructure in the country has since been crumbling. Most of government run referral hospitals and clinics are often out of essential medicines, basic hospital equipment and supplies, particularly in rural communities.
Blood supplies, ambulance services and emergency facilities are often in short supply and hard to access or afford by most rural communities, especially those in remote areas.
Most notably in West Nile sub-region of north western Uganda alone, nearly all healthcare facilities, operated by government are overwhelmed with patient care, as there are not enough medical staff, not enough hospital beds, limited power or no electricity, no running water or sources of clean and safe water, which often leads to some serious sanitation and additional health problems, further risking and endangering the lives of both patients and staff. Women, pregnant women and children are often at most risk.
For example, there are no prenatal care services for many women, in most referral government hospitals, in the West Nile sub-region of north western Uganda.
Patient transportation has been slow, time consuming, costly, painstaking and life threatening exercise, for most rural poor. As a result, many patients, especially pregnant women and children have lost their lives in the process. Hundreds of women are known to have met their deaths at childbirth, over the years, including the recent past.
In the West Nile sub-region, patients are known to supply their own means of lighting and heating, once they are admitted to referral, government run hospitals, with no electricity or limited power, which is nothing but unreliable. As such, many patients have been seen to use kerosene lamps or dried elephant grass for lighting and ordinary candles for incubating young babies born under weight, exposing the women and their young infants to toxins and other health hazards.
Due to acute shortage of hospital beds, most patients are often forced to bring their own makeshift beddings, of simple mats, but often without blankets, let alone bed sheets in which to sleep, on hard concrete cement floors. Many women have given birth on such hard and often cold cement floors. One can only imagine their plight.
Another challenging environment is that, almost all levels of medical staff are under paid. It has not been easy to motivate medical staff, to remain in their current positions or even to work hard, for the common good of all patients and society in general. As a result, many trained healthcare professionals are leaving or have already left the country, for greener pastures abroad.
In Uganda, Malaria is endemic in over 90% of the country, with one of the highest cases reported in the West Nile sub-region of north western Uganda. Malaria remains a leading cause of death among most children and pregnant women in the country.
Between 70,000 and 100,000 children die of Malaria related diseases in Uganda each year. Most of this is in rural communities, which includes rural West Nile sub-region.
According to Uganda Demographic Health Survey of 2011, less than half, (about 43%), of children under the age of five years, sleep in Insecticide Treated Mosquito Nets. Whereas, the figure for women is around 47%.
However, according to World Health Organization, using Long Lasting Insecticide Treated Mosquito Nets is one of the safest methods of preventing and controlling Malaria.
This method may lead to 19% reduction id child mortality and between 40% and 50% reduction in new infections, when effectively applied.
Many hard to reach or neglected areas of rural West Nile sub-region have been largely under supplied with appropriate mosquito nets and in some areas, mosquito nets have been under utilized or even misused, requiring more work to be done, to increase and improve the use of protective mosquito nets, covering the whole of the sub-region.