June 3, 2020

Rukungiri Health Workers demand anti-COVID-19 safety equipment, vow to lay down tools


Rukungiri – Health workers at Rukungiri health centre IV in Rukungiri Municipality on Monday afternoon stormed the municipal offices demanding anti-COVID-19 safety wear.

The Health workers sought personal protective equipment -PPE, masks, goggles, among others, to respond to coronavirus suspected cases as they have threatened to lay down their tools.

Rukungiri health centre IV was turned into a district isolation centre for suspected Coronavirus cases but it’s alleged that the facility was never equipped with requirements or training to help them manage or handle the situation.

The angry health workers led by the facility in-charge Dr. Jonathan Kintu stormed the municipal offices protesting the situation they are managing the situation now saying that their lives are endangered in case they fall in hands of a patient.

This followed a suspected Coronavirus case who was dumped at the facility on Sunday, May 31, 2020, by the district Coronavirus taskForce. In a separate statement, the Ministry confirmed that their seven counterparts had tested positive of COVID-19

The suspected case currently isolated at the facility is a native of Rukungiri district and has been working in a coronavirus hot spot district of Arua in northern Uganda as a money changer.

Dr. Kintu says that they were forced to discharge all the patients at the facility since the suspect was admitted in a general patient’s ward since the facility due to absence of private ward for suspects.

He says that to their surprise the office of district health officer offered them 10 pieces of N95 face masks, 2 pieces of goggles and a box of re-useable face masks to be used by a team of 38 health workers at the facility.

“I was very disappointed by the way the district is responding, dealing with needs of the health workers and continuous monitoring of this pandemic outbreak. Am now wondering how we are going to deal with this disease in case the results of this gentle man we have at the facility turns positive.” Dr. Kintu said.

Dr. Kintu said his team only received Ugx 40,000 each which he says has affected their performance yet they expected an extra pay as staff at the fore front of fighting the pandemic as they work day and night when they received the first suspect they even used all the oxygen in the hospital since the suspect had difficulty in breathing and almost every health worker contributed a lot towards saving the life of the suspect and currently they have no oxygen they don’t know how to deal with this.

Among the other issues raised by the health workers included the absence of transport means, allowances, lack of information concerning Coronavirus management among others.

Dr. Kintu said that it was unfortunate that they are handling suspected cases without any training on management of this new virus outbreak adding that they are basically learning on the 3 personnel who were trained in handling Ebola cases which is very different from the current infection.

“We are just using Ebola knowledge to handle suspected coronavirus cases yet money was released for such training. We are not effectively informed neither knowledgeable in handling a coronavirus patient in case one is confirmed in the district thus easy to lose a life either of a health worker or a patient or both” Dr. Kintu .

Charles Makuru, a member of the District coronavirus TaskForce also the Rukungiri municipality mayor asked the angry health workers to stick to their professional code of conduct adding that being what they are is a calling from God.

Makulu added that going on a strike over lack of protective gears to treat Coronavirus patients must be dealt with accordingly noting that this is a battle for saving lives not losing any.

“We are currently at a war of saving lives, this is your time as health workers to inculcate your professionalism than ever before, please don’t strike but rather help fellow Ugandans to survive this pandeemic” Makulu said.

Dan Ayebazibwe Kaguta the Rukungiri district coronavirus TaskForce committee chairperson and RDC hailed the health workers doing a tremendous job done so far being at the forefront in the fight against Coronavirus in the district however added that they must be disciplined in executing their duties.

Kaguta said that government needs them alive and equally shouldn’t lose people because the health workers are striking and have laying down tools because of lack of protective gear.

“Lack of Coronavirus PPEs is a global crisis adding that the government of Uganda is doing all it can to procure enough protective gear and called on the health workers to use the few available” Kaguta said.

Dr Akasiima Mucunguzi the Rukungiri district health officer requested them to be united and do away with their individual differences in order to deliver efficient services to the people.

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