Uganda: Kasese Grapples With Health, Sanitation Issues After Floods

Three months after Kasese District was hit by floods that, among others, destroyed roads, schools and health centres, authorities are faced with humanitarian challenges.

More than 10,000 people were displaced by the floods and some primary schools, which include Bulembia and Kyanjuki, were submerged. Kilembe Hospital was also submerged while roads and bridges were damaged.

The May floods hit the district after five rivers burst their banks following days of torrential rains.

Government then delivered some relief items to support the displaced persons and promised more interventions, which are yet to be fulfilled.

As a result, several people are living in camps where they are facing serious health, financial and sanitation challenges.

Daily Monitor at the weekend Kanyangeya, Nkaiga and Kiraro primary schools that are host to thousands of displaced families.

Kilembe Mines Hospital was immensely affected by the floods and was later relocated to Kasese Town where it is hosted by Kasese Catholic Diocese. This has denied residents of Kilembe the much needed health services. They now have to trek long distances in search of better health services.

Mr Deogratius Isemamba, the chairperson of Namuhuga Ward in Bulembia Division, Kasese Municipality, said close to 100 families are camped at Kanyangeya Primary School, which is congested while pregnant mothers struggle to access health facilities due to the impassable roads that were affected by the floods.

"Going to Kasese Town for better health facilities is such a long distance and we have cases of people dying along the way. The situation has been made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic where transport was restricted," Mr Allan Kambale, a resident of Namuhuga Ward, said.

Transport challenges

Ms Asinet Kabugho, another resident, said the damaged bridges have worsened their transport challenges.

"People of Mburakasaka have to wade through the water when going home and to tend to their gardens. The sick are transported by ambulances, which are not easily available, besides being unaffordable," she said.

Mr Julius Mucunguzi, the public relations officer in the Office of the Prime Minister, said the government is aware of the situation and is taking action.

"Some of the interventions are long term but haven't been implemented due to limited resources. Also constructing a hospital takes some time," he said.

As a way of intervention, Malteser International, a humanitarian relief agency, has partnered with local leaders to transport patients from Kilembe to Kasese Town for treatment.

They have also extended outreach services in Kilembe where doctors travel to villages to offer treatment.

"We go there to provide antenatal, immunisation and postnatal services" Dr Edward Wafula, the medical superintendent at Kilembe Mines Hospital, said.

He said they are overwhelmed by the number of patients turning up for treatment. "Ever since we relocated to Kasese Town, we receive many patients compared to those we received while in Kilembe and there are modalities we have put in place to ensure that all people get health services from this place," Dr Wafula said.

Ms Laura Beutler, the technical coordinator for Malteser International in Uganda, said the largest hospital in Kasese has had to be evacuated, leaving people there without much-needed medical care.

"We have been sending ambulances and our medical team in support of health facilities in the district." she said.

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