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Lack of Oxygen Costing Lives in Soroti Hospital- MPs

The oxygen plant in the hospital produces only five cylinders of oxygen in two hours, a rate that falls far below the 150 cylinders a day required for the current number of patients at the COVID-19 Treatment Unit. Currently, the unit is managing 74 patients with 45 severe cases on oxygen support, while 98 others are in home-based care.
MPs on COVID-19 Taskforce with Soroti leaders tour the Hospital.

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 Members of the COVID-19 Taskforce of Parliament have observed that the limited supply of oxygen is the leading cause of death at the Soroti Hospital COVID-19 Treatment Unit.

The MPs led by the Butebo County MP, Dr Patrick Lodoi Mutono said that while the hospital was doing well in the management of COVID-19 patients, an inadequate supply of oxygen was threatening lives. This came up during a meeting with the hospital management on Thursday, as part of a fact-finding mission on the management of COVID-19 in the country. 

The oxygen plant in the hospital produces only five cylinders of oxygen in two hours, resulting in 40 cylinders a day, a rate that falls far below the 150 cylinders required for the current number of patients at the COVID-19 Treatment Unit. Currently, the unit is managing 74 patients with 45 severe cases on oxygen support, while 98 others are in home-based care.

A report shared by the Soroti Hospital COVID-19 Treatment Unit indicates that the hospital has recorded 72 cumulative deaths out of 1,341 patients managed since the outbreak of COVID-19. A total of 1,087 patients have fully recovered and only eight cases have been sent to the National Referral Hospital in Mulago, Kampala.

According to Dr Wilson Etolu, the COVID-19 Focal Point Person at the hospital nine out of ten patients received at the unit every day, require oxygen support to survive. Dr Etolu says that besides the low production of the oxygen plant, the quality of oxygen pumped is wanting and asked the MPs to lobby for the upgrade of the oxygen plant at Sorroti Hospital.

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According to Dr Mutono, Soroti has the highest number of admissions at the COVID-19 Treatment Unit compared to other hospitals in Eastern Uganda. He, however, notes that the hospital has been let down by the low production and supply of oxygen.

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The MPs are now asking the government to fund and facilitate the hospital with all the required equipment including Personal Protective Equipment- PPE, oxygen, ambulances and transport among others.

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Soroti has also delivered six pregnant mothers including one cesarean section who went into labour after admissions to the ward.