Dr. Gerald Mutungi, the Assistant Commissioner in charge of Non-Communicable Diseases at the Ministry of Health, says that they are aware of the situation at UCI and have scheduled a meeting with the management.
Lying on the floor in the corridor of the Uganda Cancer
Institute, Resty Nakabito writhes in pain with a drip attached to her wrist. She lies still as she stares up in the air. She is
sleeping on a mattress provided by the hospital in the waiting area in front of
the ward doors on the second floor.
Nakabito's grandson, who has just returned with envelopes of drugs
looks for a nurse to help his ailing grandmother. The nurse, who is seated a few meters from Nakabito on a
wooden bench tells her grandson to
wait. She is bent at
the waist, syringe in hand, administering medicine to another patient seated on
the floor near the reception desk.
The lady leans back against her bags. This is the situation in the adult ward at the
institute. The corridors of the ward and even outside the doors all host patients. Visitors
and medical staff need to walk watching where their feet land to avoid stepping
on ailing patients or their attendants
seated beside them on the floors.
Eunice Nantale, a mother of two, who is currently looking after her mother at
the hospital says despite the lack of beds, patients are receiving the care
they need. "When
we came my mother was very sick. She could not talk and had a bad bout of
diarrhea. But now there's some improvement. She can now talk and even diarrhea has decreased. The nurses are very helpful and care about the patients
despite the lack of beds," she said.
The newly built five-storied Uganda Cancer Institute building sitting on Mulago hill is meant to accommodate 80 patients at any given time. But due to the high rate at
are being diagnosed with cancer, the beds are no longer enough.
Gerald Mutungi, the Assistant Commissioner in charge of Non-Communicable
Diseases at the Ministry of Health,
says that they are aware of the situation at UCI and have scheduled a meeting with the management. Mutungi says they are willing to do whatever it
means to rectify the situation even if it means putting up tents to temporarily
accommodate all the patients on the floors.
//Cue; "We are going...
Cue out...do that."//
According to the Cancer Society, over 32,000 new
cancer patients have registered annually. With the increase in NCDs, Mutungi
says this number might more than double in the next 10 years. URN's efforts to get in touch with the Executive Director of UCI were futile.
The spokesperson of
UCI, Christine Namulindwa refuted claims that there were any patients sleeping
in the corridors of the facility. She offered to give our reporter a tour of
the facility. A statement signed by Dr. Jackson Orem,
the Executive Director UCI issued
on Tuesday evening shows that the lack of space or hospital beds at the
moment is being caused by ongoing renovation works.
"Due to the need to create more space for patients on
the Solid Tumor ward, the institute reached an executive decision last
year to expand these spaces. This called for temporary spaces to accommodate
these patients. The renovation and expansion works are almost complete however
this does not mean all the space needs are catered for. More space is needed since the number of cancer patients is increasing daily," it reads.
According to UCI 7,000 new cancer patients are
reported at the institute annually. The current space does not match the increase in the cases.