Overwhelming Premature Deliveries Prompt Construction of Ugx260m Neonatal ICU at Nakaseke Hospital

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) has since its start in April 2018 admitted 1,083 babies, out of which, unfortunately, 28 have succumbed to serious complications. But the rest have had their lives saved.
28 Nov 2021 18:30
A premature baby lies on one of the beds in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Nakaseke hospital

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The upsurge in the delivery of premature babies at Nakaseke General Hospital with the subsequent referrals has prompted the establishment of a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) worth 260 million shillings at the facility. 

Nakaseke General Hospital located in Nakaseke town in Nakaseke district, which is the largest government health facility in Greater Luwero region comprising Luwero, Nakaseke and Nakasongola districts was opened in 1969. 

The facility has for over four decades, operated without a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) leaving many lives of the prematurely born babies in jeopardy. Any expectant mothers whose conditions could see them deliver neonates have had to be referred to Kiwoko Hospital, a privately owned facility affiliated with the Church of Uganda (CoU) still in Nakaseke district. 

Kiwoko hospital which had already established a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in 1999 courtesy of ADARA Newborn, a Non-Governmental Organization advocating for care of newborns, is about 17kilometers from Nakaseke General Hospital. 

In 2017, the number of babies at Nakaseke General Hospital in need of services offered at a NICU seemingly started to rise from about 5 to about 30 monthly. This saw Kiwoko hospital where they were being referred feel the pinch. 

The overwhelming referrals of neonates to Kiwoko hospital prompted the administrators to take action. As a result, in 2017, they (Kiwoko Hospital administrators) engaged authorities at Nakaseke General Hospital after the latter set aside a room for the unit.

Kiwoko hospital administrators also lobbied their funders, who also established theirs, ADARA Newborn, based in Sydney, to extend the same support to Nakaseke hospital to stem the referrals. 

After securing funds from donors, the construction of the unit commenced at Nakaseke General Hospital in 2018 and it also started admissions in April the same year.

According to Daniel Kabugo, the country director of ADARA Newborn (Uganda) they have sunk 260 million shillings in the unit. He explains that they have equipped it with machines including incubators, baby warmers, and monitors among others. 

Currently the unit can handle 15 babies at a time, unlike before when it could only handle two. 

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The In-Charge of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Asaba Teddy Rusoke, told URN in an interview that since the start of this unit in April 2018, they have admitted 1,083 babies. Out of these, she reveals that unfortunately, 28 have succumbed to serious complications, but the rest, have had their lives saved. 

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The official launch of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Nakaseke General Hospital was presided over by Dr. Diana Atwine, the Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Health -MoH. 

When asked at the sidelines of the event in an interview with URN whether they as government are not challenged with this development by a private organization, Dr. Atwine responded that they have a policy in the ministry to establish NICUs at all health facilities starting with hospitals, then go down to health center IVs, but the implementation is impeded by lack of funds. 

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For his part, Dr. Bernard Okongo, the Medical Superintendent of Nakaseke General Hospital said that the NICU is to among others save more lives and lessen the burden of the huge transport costs always incurred during the referring of the babies. 

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