How MTN refurbished Kamukira health centre IV came to the rescue during lockdown

It’s been over a year since the emergence of covid-19 in Uganda which tested the fortitude of many of the country’s structures, the health sector the most.

Around the steep slopes and hills of Kabale district, news of the virus outbreak broke at Kabale regional referral hospital.

According to ministry of health, Kabale Regional Referral Hospital is a 280 bed hospital located in Kabale Municipality in Southwestern Uganda, approximately 426 Kilometers from Kampala.

The hospital serves a population of about 2 million people in the districts of Kabale, Kisoro, Rukungiri, Kanungu and some parts of Ntungamo as well as people from neighboring countries of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

But for two weeks, the very important and strategic referral hospital was closed off to other patients due to the news of the covid-19 outbreak at the facility.

Patients with other diseases were forced to look for alternatives in the town for survival.

A few kilometres away from the referral hospital sits Kamukira health centre IV, a once incomplete deserted building blossomed into a storied building canopied by red iron sheets.

It was in Kamukira health centre IV that the stranded patients found solace. Kamukira health center IV serves a catchment population of 8,778 but receives about 4000 patients both in and outpatients on a monthly basis.

The hospital according to the facility in charge had to step up and take up majority of the patients suffering from other diseases which it handled successfully thanks to its structure and facilities.

Inpatient admissions

The story would have been different back in 2016 when Kamukira did not have the ability to admit patients, with the exception of the maternity ward.

Most in-patients used to be referred to other facilities.

“Patients used to fear since the facility did not have the capacity to admit,” Paddy Mwesigye, the facility in-charge narrated.

A new dawn

However, in 2019, MTN through the MTN Foundation funded the completion of outstanding building works, electricity installations, plumbing installations and finishing.

According to Mwesigye, the completion of the main in-patient structure by MTN Uganda Foundation has solved issues of low turn-up and enabled them treat and admit patients during the lockdown.

Because of the presence of an inpatient structure, there is now an increase in inpatient admissions which has led to reduced decongestion of Kabale regional referral hospital.

Surgery

MTN also went on to acquire a generator, beddings including: 20 mattresses, 20 metallic beds, 20 mosquito nets and 20 Blankets which have enabled the health centre carry out operations in the theatre.

“The wards did not have a water system in place. MTN Uganda Foundation put flashing water in all those toilets and wash facilities,” he further explains.

The community in Kabale district lauds MTN and is “very appreciative and beyond grateful” as they are enjoying a neat and conducive environment at the hospital.

Blood Donation Drive Launched Amidst Calls to Save More Lives

The Annual Blood Drive, organized by the Rotary Club of Kampala Munyonyo, seeks to raise 1,500 pints of blood in Kampala.

Every year on June 14th, all countries globally celebrate World Blood Donor Day. The event serves to thank voluntary, unpaid blood donors for their life-saving gift of blood and also to raise awareness of the need for regular blood donations to ensure that all individuals and communities have access to affordable and timely supplies of safe and quality-assured blood and blood products, as an integral part of universal health coverage and a key component of effective health systems.

The need for safe blood is universal; safe blood is critical both for treatments and urgent interventions. It can help patients suffering from life-threatening conditions live longer and with a higher quality of life and supports complex medical and surgical procedures.

In Uganda, blood has a vital, essential, life-saving role in maternal and neonatal care without forgetting the importance in treating the wounded during emergencies such as accidents.

However, access to safe blood is still a privilege of the few. Currently, there is a massive shortage of blood at the blood banks in Uganda, in what has been described by officials as a dire situation that needs to be addressed. With Mothers dying because of shortage of blood and other patients needing emergency blood transfusion due to accidents and various illnesses, the need for blood is now more urgent than ever before.

That is why the Rotary Club of Kampala Munyonyo in conjunction with Grant Thornton, MTN Uganda, Coca-Cola, NBS TV, Capital FM, Capital One Group, and Uganda Breweries have come together to organize a blood donation drive in line with World Blood Donor Day that will see thousands of Ugandans donate blood to the the Mengo Hospital Rotary Blood Bank, Nakasero Blood Bank, and other blood banks in Uganda.

The blood donation drive, under the 2021 World Blood Donor Day campaign theme “Give Blood And Keep The World Beating”, will take place in Kampala from 8th June to 14th June 2021 at the following locations: Namirembe Road, Watoto Central (KPC), Bwaise Roundabout, Mukwano Arcade, Mengo Rotary Blood bank, and Nakasero Blood Bank.

Last year, health authorities stated that the supply of blood sharply declined since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic as fewer people donated blood and schools remain closed. Students, especially those in secondary school, are the largest group of blood donors but schools have been closed for a long time amid efforts to curb the spread of the virus.

The consequences of low availability of blood are sometimes deadly hence the timeliness of this intervention. Speaking at the launch of the blood donation drive, a number of corporate representatives voiced their support for the initiative which they said was timely in spite of the restrictions taking place due to COVID-19:

“Many Ugandans struggle to find safe blood available because donations are low and equipment to test blood is scarce. This blood donation drive will assist to change this situation and we call upon all members of the public to take part in it”, Peter Kagwa (PK) – President of Rotary Club of Kampala Munyonyo in Uganda and Chief Mobilizer of the Annual Blood Donation Drive.

“An adequate supply of safe blood can only be assured through regular donations by voluntary blood donors. This is why we are joining this drive to thank blood donors and encourage more people to give blood freely in order to save lives”: Simon Kaheru – Director of Public Affairs and Communications at Coca-Cola Beverages Africa Uganda.

“World Blood Donor Day is an important day to thank blood donors, raise awareness about the global need for safe blood and communication how everyone can contribute. We urge Ugandans to join us to make access to safe blood a reality for everyone. Your involvement and support will ensure greater impact to boost blood available at the blood banks; giving blood is a humane, selfless, life-saving act to ensure availability of safe blood to those who need it, especially women in labour, the sick and accident victims”: Kin Kariisa – CEO of Next Media Services.

“Blood donations such as these are needed in Uganda to ensure individuals and communities have access to safe and quality-assured blood in both normal and emergency situations. We join this campaign to call on more Ugandans to become life-savers by volunteering to donate blood not only during this blood donation campaign but also regularly”: Paul Mwirigi Muriungi, Managing Director, Capital One Group.

The blood donation drive has also been supported by the Uganda Red Cross Society, Mengo Rotary Blood Bank, the Indian Association Of Uganda, and the Institute of Corporate Governance, and endorsed by The Uganda Blood Transfusion Services (UBTS), the National Blood Service responsible for all blood transfusion and safety activities for the entire country that operates within the framework of the National Health Policy (NHP) and the Health Sector Strategic Plan (HSSP).