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Nakaseke District Commits 2% of Its Budget On Neonatal Care :: Uganda Radionetwork

Nakaseke District Commits 2% of Its Budget On Neonatal Care

According to Nakaseke health department, about 8,416 newborns were registered in the financial year 2021/22 of which 7.6% (639) were premature babies.
A health worker at Kiwoko hospital looking after a premature baby who is 800 grams

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Leaders in Nakaseke District have asked the government to scale up the provision of neonatal care services in lower health facilities.

According to Nakaseke health department, about 8,416 newborns were registered in the financial year 2021/22 of which 7.6% (639) were premature babies.

The babies were referred to Neonatal Intensive Care Units at Kiwoko hospital a private not-for-profit facility that has 38 beds and Nakaseke government hospital which has a bed capacity of only 23 beds.   Administrators at the two hospitals say they are overwhelmed due to referrals within and from other nearby districts which lack the services.

Doctor Moses Ocen a surgeon at Nakaseke hospital asked the district to recruit fifteen more health workers to attend to premature babies at the unit and provide more equipment.

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Proscovia Nanyonjo a resident of Lumpewe village in Kikamulo sub county recently delivered premature twins of seven months and sought treatment at Kiwoko hospital. Nanyonjo says due to overwhelming numbers, premature babies share beds at Kiwoko hospital.

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Jane Nansamba a resident from Wakyato sub-county said that women from the cattle corridor are unable to access such care because the two hospitals are located in distant places which led to some premature babies dying in lower units.

Sarah Nakalungi the Nakaseke District Chief Administrative Officer says that due to the demand,  the district effective 2023/24 will allocate at least two percent of its local revenue, Result Based Financing, and Primary Health Care grants on improving neonatal care services.

Nakalungi says that apart from supporting existing neonatal units, the district intends to establish Special Care Baby Units at Ngoma and Semuto Health Center IVs to promote neonatal care.

Nakalungi adds that they also asked for the government to revise the district wage bill to enable it to recruit more staff of which some health workers will be deployed at Nakaseke hospital and the two other health centers.

But Hanipher Namata the district councilor for Kiwoko town says that although the two percent is good to start, there is a need for the central government to fulfill its pledge to scale up the neonatal care services in lower health units.

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Doctor Margaret Nakakeeto Kijjambu the Chairperson of the Newborn Steering Committee in the Ministry of Health says that some neonatal care services can be offered in lower units if they are equipped.

Nakakeeto welcomed Nakaseke’s budget allocation but asked them to increase it so as to create a bigger impact.

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At least 47 percent of women give birth at health center IIIs and 26 percent of women give birth at health center IVs across the country.

There are only four standard Neonatal Intensive Care Units in Uganda of which three are located in Kampala city and the fourth is at Kiwoko hospital in Nakaseke district.

On Thursday, Nakaseke district hosted World Prematurity Day at Kiwoko Primary School in Kiwoko town council. The day is intended at raising awareness of preterm birth and the associated impact on babies.

Dr. Richard Mugahi the Assistant Commissioner for Reproductive and Infant Health admitted gaps in access to neonatal care services.  He explained that at least 400 newborn babies die per week and prematurity is the second cause due to the lack of neonatal care services.

Mugahi explains that the major causes of prematurity are malaria, preeclampsia, and other infection during pregnancies.   He, however, noted that the Ministry of Health through its five-year plan intends to ensure that mothers can access neonatal care services near them and they will start by equipping 17 regional hospitals to address the challenge.

Mugahi adds that they also intend to establish Special Care Baby Units in 55 general hospitals and 233 Health Centre IVs across the country but all this will depend on the availability of funds.

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Currently, 27/1000 newborn babies die in Uganda and the Ministry intends to reduce the deaths to 12/1000 live births.  

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