Relief As Luwero Hospital Establishes Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

The newly established Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Luwero Hospital has brought a sigh of relief to mothers who have been trekking long distances for health services. Every month, at least 350-370 women give birth at Luwero hospital.

However, 55 of the children are in need of neonatal care services. Apparently, the hospital has been referring premature babies to Kiwoko hospital for management due to the absence of a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Kiwoko Hospital runs a standard Neonatal Intensive Care Unit with a capacity of 38 beds.

Dr. Steven Magera, the Medical Superintendent of Luwero hospital says that due to the challenges faced by women during referrals, they resolved to set up a basic Neonatal Intensive Care Unit with support from Adara Group, a non-government Organization.  

Magera explains that so far they have handled 142 premature babies and deployed four health workers including a pediatrician to look after the minor since they established the unit last year. Magera however said they lack enough space to accommodate the mothers alongside their babies, and equipment and have the challenge of an unreliable power supply.

The neonatal intensive care unit can accommodate up to 30 premature babies.

Christine Nakamanya, the Luwero District Health Secretary said that the establishment of the unit was a great relief to women who have been trekking about 13 kilometers to seek neonatal care services at Kiwoko hospital in Nakaseke district.

Nakamanya adds that some women had turned to the traditional birth attendants for support after failing to raise money for transport and upkeep at the referral.

“Some babies have been dying in referrals and others in the care of traditional birth attendants. We are happy that many lives of premature babies will now be saved at our hospital. We now appeal for support from the Ministry as well as the Non-Government Organisation to address the challenges still affecting it ” Nakamanya said

Erastus Kibirango, the Luwero district LC 5 Chairperson, says that the challenge of lack of enough space can be addressed if the Ministry of Health offers them a one-off grant to complete the construction of a 100-bed capacity ward to decongest the facility and introduce more services.

Recently, administrators of Kiwoko hospital said that they were overwhelmed due to referrals from within and nearby districts, which lacked neonatal services. There are only four standard Neonatal Intensive Care Units in Uganda. Three of these are located in Kampala city and the fourth is at Kiwoko hospital.

Dr. Richard Mugahi, the Assistant Commissioner for Reproductive and Infant Health recently revealed that over 400 newborn babies die per week and prematurity is the second cause due to the lack of neonatal care services.

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