Uganda: Urgent Call for Affordable Oxygen As Lung Diseases Surge in Uganda

1 December 2023

Health experts at Makerere University Lung Institute have emphasized the pressing need for a reduction in oxygen costs to aid patients battling lung diseases, particularly those facing the silent threat of silicosis.

The plea was made during the institute's second Lung Science and Health Symposium, where alarming statistics highlighted the rising cases of Ugandans falling victim to lung silicosis due to occupational hazards.

Prof. William Warodria, a prominent figure at the symposium, expressed deep concern about the escalating numbers of individuals contracting lung silicosis, a perilous disease resulting from inhaling dust and hazardous pathogens.

The director of Makerere University Lung Institute, Dr. Bruce Kirenga, underscored the urgency of establishing a national lung institute, citing the immense burden posed by the increasing prevalence of lung diseases.

Research findings presented at the symposium unveiled that workers in construction, transportation, mining, quarrying, and garbage collection face heightened risks of developing long-term effects of lung silicosis, primarily due to the absence of protective gear.

Assistant Commissioner for Occupational Health at the Ministry of Labour, Francis Odong, stressed the imperative need to equip workers with proper protective gear to mitigate these occupational hazards.

"This is not an issue confined to one ministry; it requires collaboration from all stakeholders," emphasized Dr.

Charles Ayume, Member of Parliament for Koboko Municipality, emphasizing the necessity of a comprehensive approach involving policymakers and various sectors.

A concerning revelation emerged during the symposium, linking the surge in silicosis cases to the use of artificial stones, particularly in kitchens.

A research study involving 100 individuals working in the stone business found that 40% developed severe complications after initially presenting with a simple cough.

As Uganda grapples with the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, the insufficient availability of affordable oxygen continues to be a major hindrance to the treatment and recovery of patients with lung diseases.

The symposium's findings underscore the critical need for immediate action, urging policymakers to address the rising challenges in lung health and ensure access to life-saving resources.

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