Govt speaks out New-Born babies seen on plastic chairs

SOME of the newborn babies seen in a picture taken at the Neonatal Care Unit at Kawempe Hospital and circulated on social media have been moved to Mulago Specialised Women and Neonatal Hospital the health ministry has said.

In the picture, the premature babies who had been admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit were sleeping on plastic chairs and some sharing a single bed.

This, the ministry says was an interim solution to the current challenges of overwhelming numbers at the hospital.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the health minister, Dr. Jane Aceng, said they were planning to expand the neonatal special care unit at Kawempe Hospital in order to cater for the high number of patients.

“The high patient numbers are as a result of the increased number of referrals from the lower health facilities around Kampala, Wakiso, Mpigi, Mukono and other parts of the country. Ministry of Health engineers are on-site to assess the modalities required to expand the special care unit. Procurement of equipment such as; additional incubators, infant warmers, phototherapy machines, and baby cots is on,” Aceng said.

According to statistics, Kawempe Hospital delivers an average of 80-100 babies daily and 2,500 babies monthly translating to about 30,000 babies per year.

Currently, the hospital is home to the directorate of obstetrics and gynecology and pediatrics of Mulago. Emmanuel Ainebyona, the health ministry spokesperson, said the ministry is engaging Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) and the neighboring local governments to ensure that lower health facilities are functionalized to full capacity to curb the high referral numbers.

“The health ministry would like to state that the pictures circulating on social media do not depict the actual situation on the ground. The babies at this facility are in a temperature-controlled environment and infection, prevention and control measures are adhered to ensuring there is no danger to the babies’ lives,” Ainebyona said.

This is not the first time conditions at Kawempe Hospital have been put in the limelight. Some time back babies died because of lack of oxygen at the hospital. Referred women are also encouraged to go to Mulago Specialised Women and Neonatal Hospital and access free services.