Zambia Reports (Lusaka)

29 January 2013

Zambia: PF Ministers Differ On UTH Oxygen

Government ministers, Kennedy Sakeni and Joseph Kasonde, have contradicted themselves on the shortage of oxygen at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) were reports indicate that more than 20 premature babies in incubators have died.

Health minister Kasonde was recently angered at the breakdown of the oxygen plant at UTH and threatened to cause the arrest of directors at African Oxygen, suppliers at the institution on charges of criminal negligence.

UTH managing director Dr Lackson Kasonka had also confirmed the shortage and said the referral hospital was now using oxygen tanks to conduct partial operations in the theatre.

Sources have disclosed that adults, children and premature babies are dying at UTH due to the oxygen shortage. About 20 babies have so far died due to the lack of sufficient supply of oxygen at the hospital.

"Everyone is covering up the problem at UTH. Do you own investigations, people are dying. Can you imagine 20 babies who could have been save using incubators are dead?" the source wondered.

The shortage of oxygen supply has resulted in many deaths though the known number released is only five patients.

But chief government spokesperson Kennedy Sakeni claimed on Monday that there is no problem of oxygen at UTH and that no death has occurred because of the short supply.

He said the institution was operating normally and that the oxygen plant was obsolete needing a complete overhaul.

The latest government position has sharply contracted their admission of the problem and now trying to cover up on their mess.

Several patients who had appointments for operations were turned away and told to return after the oxygen supply was normalized.

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