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30% of Health Centre IIs Have Access to Water-Primary Health Care Survey

According to preliminary findings of Primary Health Care Performance National survey 2019, only 30% health centre IIs and 50% of health centre III’s have access to water across the country.
File Photo; Butuntumula HC 3 in Luweero whose water tank was vandalised by residents

Audio 5

Majority of lower government health centres are facing a water crisis which is affecting health services.

According to preliminary findings of Primary Health Care Performance National survey 2019, only 30% health centre II’s and 50% of health centre III’s have access to water across the country.

The survey further reveals that less than 10% of drug shops have access to water.  

However, the survey revealed that over 80% health centre IVs and 90% of hospital had access to water.

The survey was conducted by Makerere University School of Public Health in 398 health centres of which 57% public, 36% private, 12% hospitals and 26% chemists or drug shops. 

Dr Elizabeth Nabiwemba of Makerere University School of Public Health explains that water is not required for only operations but for sanitation and preventing diseases at the health centres.

Nabiwemba says that the absence of water at the facilities affects many Ugandans seeking primary health care services. She says that there was need for government to address the problem.

She explains that some health workers use sanitizers to clean hands after operations while patients are asked to carry water to the facility.  

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In Luweero local leaders and health workers have admitted that there was water shortage especially at health centre II and IIIs across the district.

There are 39 government health centres in Luweero district of which two are health centre IVs and one hospital.  At least 13 health centers in Luweero have no access to water.

Joseph Sserugo, the Vice-Chairperson of Luweero district says that it’s unfortunate the water tanks acquired to address the problem in some health centres were vandalized by residents.

Sserugo adds that communities are equally water-stressed and the water tanks were vandalized after they were found locked by health workers.

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Some health workers say they buy water from vendors for critical operations like cleaning or washing but sometimes they run out of water for such costs. 

Doctor Innocent Nkonwa the Luweero District Health Officer says that it has been difficult to drill boreholes at certain health centres because they are located in areas with no water underground.

Nkonwa says that the district has now partnered with National Water Sewerage Corporation to ensure water is extended to such areas to handle the problem.

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The survey was conducted by Makerere University School of Public Health with support from Bill and Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproduction, Ariadne Labs, John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Performance Monitoring for Action-Uganda.