Entebbe regional referral hospital has started running weekly mobile clinics for people living with HIV, diabetes and hypertension.
The clinics run daily and weekly, depending on demand and in designated areas in and near Entebbe municipality. The decision to regularise the operation of three clinics follows the closure of all departments late in March to focus on treating and managing COVID-19 cases.
Dr Moses Muwanga, the director, Entebbe regional referral hospital, said the opening of clinics was prompted by a public outcry from people with pre-existing conditions and chronic illnesses who lacked access to medical checkup, review and drug refills.
The hospital has so far designated St. Kizito primary School Kawuku, Kitala primary school, Quran primary school in Abaita Ababiri and Grade A Entebbe, next to State House, as stations for the mobile clinics.
Stable patients with diabetes and hypertension are given drugs to last a month while those in unstable condition are given appointments to return after a week or two.
The clinics for diabetes and hypertension are held once a month in each of the four locations while the anti-retroviral therapy (ART) clinic is opened daily at Grade A. Close to 100,000 people with HIV live within Entebbe municipality and beyond. They rely on the clinic for regular checkup and drug refills. About 800 people who have diabetes or both diabetes and hypertension used to visit Entebbe hospital prior to the COVID-19 outbreak in Uganda.
Hajjat Sarah Nanyange, 51, says she has lived with diabetes for 26 years now. Nanyange, who is also the chairperson of Entebbe Diabetes Association, said some patients had deteriorated so much that “eleven patients died after the hospital was closed and failed to get treatment in time due to the lockdown.”
She appealed to management team to look for ways to reach out to patients who may die after failing to get medical attention. Dr Kefa Bacwa, the head of Community Health department at Entebbe hospital, said the lockdown has affected patients with chronic illnesses and health workers because it is difficult to get transport to and from the health centres.
“The hospital has three ambulances. But one has been earmarked for non-COVID-19 purposes. So, the health workers also have transport challenges to and from the mobile clinics,” Dr Bacwa said.
Dr Muwanga said clinics will also start providing medical services to sickle cell patients and the general public because the health centred III at Katabi and Kigungu are overwhelmed by the high number of patients.