Uganda: Jinja Hospital Lacks Crucial Staff Amid Spike in Virus Deaths

Jinja Regional Referral Hospital is facing shortage of crucial human resources, including anesthesiologists at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), at a time when the City is grappling with Covid-19 infections and deaths.

As of last Friday, the hospital had recorded a total of 566 Covid-19 admissions, 117 deaths, 415 discharges, while the current admission stood at 36 with six referrals.

Dr Angela Namala, the deputy hospital director, says the facility currently lacks anesthesiologists, who she said are ICU critical care specialists and are key in the functionality of the unit.

"We lack critical human resources like an anesthesiologists yet they are a very critical human resources component in the functionality of the ICU.

"The people we have on site now are medical officers along with intensive care nurses; but they need support from an anesthesiologist," Dr Namala said, describing the need (for an anesthesiologists) as "urgent", to offer backup support to medical officers and nurses.

Explaining the role of an anesthesiologists, Dr Namala said: "The way you see a patient in ICU breath like the lungs need ventilation support, that level of care cannot be given by anyone except an intensivist for anesthesiologists to improve on the supply of oxygen."

According to Dr Namala, the available staff in Covid-19 treatment units (CTUs) are not enough to cater for the increasing number of patients.

"Even the current available staff are part-timers, who, in their free time, come and cover CTUs just to increase on the human resource. If this continues for a long time, we will not be able to sustain it," she said.

In an earlier interview, the hospital director, Dr Florence Tugumisirize, said the facility had an anesthesiologists who was volunteering, but was allegedly discouraged by relatives who told him that he stood high chases of contracting Covid-19.

"We had an ICU expert who left after his relatives discouraged him on grounds that if he continued treating Covid-19 patients, his chances of contracting the disease were high; so we are waiting for the Ministry of Health to intervene," she said.

The country, according to the Anesthesiologists Association of Uganda (AAU), only has 68 anesthesiologists, with 70 per cent of them working in Kampala-based hospitals.

The AAU records also indicate that 20 percent of the 68 specialists are in Mbarara, 5 percent in Mbale, 2.5 percent in Gulu and Lira.

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