Gov’t moves to improve staff accommodation at Busolwe hospital

BUTALEJA – To improve the delivery of health services at Busolwe General Hospital, the government has started constructing and renovating 74 housing units for the hospital’s workers.

Busolwe Hospital, found in Butaleja district, eastern Uganda, has 118 health workers, but the hospital can only provide housing for a small number of its workers.

The hospital’s medical superintendent, Dr. David Okanya, says that they are renovating 74 housing units.

The Staff houses which had gone without renovation for over 40 years were in an appalling state.

The construction and renovation contract was awarded to Uganda People’s Defence Force [UPDF] Engineering Brigade at Shs 6 billion.

The 100-bed hospital which serves both out-patients and in-patients operates not only in dilapidated structures but also lacks reliable electricity as well as basic health equipment and ultra-scan.

The hospital has never received a major renovation since its construction, although there have been minor repairs like painting and replacement of ceiling boards.

Available information indicates that some of the health workers live up to 15 kilometres away from the work station due to inadequate staff accommodation at the hospital.

Dr. Ivan Mukasa, Senior medical officer attached to Busolwe Hospital, said there is a need to expand staff accommodation to avoid late coming and absenteeism.

“We need all staff to be accommodated within the hospital to avoid late coming. Most of them cannot get money for rent. Female workers face a challenge in moving at night,” Dr. Mukasa said.

The facility also faces challenges of inadequate personnel, drugs, and other medical supplies, and has been operating without piped water for 15 years.

The hospital, which has been in dire condition since 1986, serves more than 200 patients on daily basis from various districts, including Budaka, Bugiri, Namutumba, and Tororo, also lacks enough oxygen cylinders and an x-ray machine.

Butaleja District Woman MP, Florence Andiru Nebanda, urged government to elevate Busolwe hospital to a regional referral facility if it is to provide holistic healthcare.

“We ask the government to change Busolwe hospital to a referral hospital once the overhaul renovation is complete. It’s an opportunity for our people. We shall have more medical treatment like specialists and medicines, ”she said, adding that it will help locals to have access to specialists, and consultants.

The hospital is overwhelmed by the increasing population, which comes from the neighboring districts yet it does not offer specialised treatment.

MP Nebanda added that “Because of the disrepair, many patients with not-too-complicated cases have to be referred over 50kms away to Mbale regional referral hospital, which is another cost to our poor people because of the poor road and costly transport. It also creates needless crowding and overloading Mbale hospital with small cases.”

The Butaleja District Chairperson Michael Higenyi Bory, said health workers have been staying in dilapidated buildings.

He said that construction that commenced six months ago, is at 45 percent.

“We can only provide accommodation to 74 staff in 74 housing units upon completion. The rest of the staff rent houses outside the hospital, trekking long distances to access the hospital which affects their daily productivity as they arrive at work late,” he said.

Isaac Mulera Budget, a board member of the hospital, said the ongoing renovation doesn’t include doctors’ houses.

“The doctors are sleeping under leaking roofs. I wonder how our doctors are going to work when they sleep under linking roofs,” Mulera said, adding that the hospital has eight doctors.

He added that “Even though the renovation is going on, it’s not enough for the staff. We want the works on the main hospital complex to start. None of the machines in the hospital are functional and the government should  equip the hospital.”

Busolwe General Hospital admits over 100 patients daily and attends to 300 out-patients.

The hospital also lacks a modern ambulance.

Mulera asked government to expand the hospital, saying it will improve access to health services by the poor people.

Butaleja district with a population of 310,900 has 24 health facilities.

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