1, 200 patients of Princes Diana Memorial Health Centre lV in Soroti district are using polythene bags to dispose off their faeces because the facility’s only surviving pit latrine is filled up.
Only male patients still try to use the pit latrine during the day. The men and boys have to remove their shirts before entering the pit latrine to prevent the stench clinging to their clothes.
Situated two kilometers along Soroti-Moroto high way, Princess Diana has been serving as an alternative to Soroti regional referral hospital where patients can be referred to even at night.
Princess Diana has 40 beds and serves a population of about 6,000 people per month.
A hospital staff member who preferred anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter confirmed that the pit latrine filled up three weeks ago.
The hospital cannot allow patients to use the staff toilets because of the overwhelming number of patients who visit the centre daily.
He said the centre had hoped municipal authorities would come to their aid quickly to help construct a new pit latrine but this has not happened.
The centre is now afraid that water sources may become contaminated because patients are using polythene bags to dispose off their waste. Some patients even litter the centre’s compound with the waste.
The staff member believes it is only a matter of time before there is a Cholera, Typhoid or Dysentery outbreak.
Dr. John Bosco Ojur, the Acting Medical Officer Soroti Municipal Council, said that the unit has the largest catchment and all the people who visit the unit are affected.
Ojur pointed out that Princes Diana Centre serves the sub-counties of Arapai, Gweri, Kamuda, Katine, Asuret, Eastern, Western and Northern Division.
The construction of a new pit latrine is in the centre’s plans. Ojur revealed that the financial year annual work plan for 2014/2015 includes the construction of a latrine at 16 million shillings
In the meantime, many patients have to struggle to find means of where to ease themselves and then dispose of that waste.
But 2014 maybe too late for the centre as Geoffrey Oumo, the area LC4 councillor representing Madera ward in Soroti Municipality, said the it should be shut down to avoid an outbreak of diseases.
Oumo said the in-charge Princess Diana Hospital had actually written to the Acting Prinicipal Medical Officer recommending for the closure of the facility. At least until new pit latrines and toilets are built.