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16 Ugandan doctors succumb to Covid-19 in last 2 weeks

Ugandan doctors on duty. Courtesy photo

Ugandan doctors on duty. Courtesy photo

At least 16 doctors have succumbed to coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in the last two weeks according to the Uganda Medical Association (UMA). 

While appearing on Capital FM radio political talk show today, UMA secretary-general Dr Mukuzi Muhereza says if you add in the other medical workers including nurses, then the number of medics that Uganda has lost to the Covid-19 pandemic is even higher. 

Overall, the country has lost more than 50 health workers to Covid-19 in both the first and second waves. This is a big blow to the country's health sector which was already grappling with a shortage of health workers. 

Muhereza attributed the death of the medics to a general lack of personal protective equipment (PPEs) and the high-risk situations medics are exposed to. 

The second Covid wave has continued to ravage the country unabated - with the ministry of Health yesterday revising upwards recorded Covid-19 deaths by 746 raising the country cumulative deaths to 1,873. Mukuzi said the number of Covid-19 infections and deaths hasn't changed in the last two weeks. 

Health minister Jane Ruth Aceng said the over 700 deaths had not been previously captured, but clinical PCR tests confirmed that they probably died of Covid-19. It is unclear under which period these deaths occurred. A further 687 recoveries (total 54,845) 37 Covid-19 deaths (total 1,910), 770 new cases (total 82,852) were recorded from samples tested on July 1. 

Meanwhile, in Kagadi district, 36 health workers from Kagadi General hospital, Kabugo, and Muhorro health center IIIs have tested positive for Covid-19 and are currently receiving home-based care because they are not critically ill. 

Many health facilities in the district are operating with inadequate or total lack of PPEs, putting the lives of the medics in danger. Kefa Madira, the Kagadi district head of Covid-19 case management says that the workers contracted the deadly virus since the second wave of the pandemic was reported in the country in May this year.

Madira attributed the increase of the cases among health workers to a lack of PPEs. He adds that several health facilities have run out of gloves, sanitizers, face shields, gowns, and aprons among others.

"The personal protective equipment, we do not have enough gloves to use, we have like 5 to approach these patients. Don't you think we're risking our lives? That is why when we talk of risk allowance, it must be considered. Another thing, this response is voluntary most people you see have accepted to work, nobody has been forced. In this team people have accepted to respond therefore as they respond to save others, we should also give them something little like lunch. We work the whole day up to 5 you're still here," said Madira.   

The health workers are currently being managed from their respective homes under the Covid-19 home-based care because they are not critically ill. Yosia B Ndibwami the Kagadi LC V chairperson says that it is worrying that more health workers could get infected with the disease. 

He has tasked the Health ministry to immediately intervene and allocate enough PPEs to Kagadi district to save the lives of health workers. While interfacing with MPs this week, the National Medical Stores (NMS) said they have PPEs in their stores but they have no transport means to take them to health facilities across the country.

Last month, health workers at Masindi General hospital laid down their tools due to lack of PPE, leaving several Covid-19 patients stranded.

© 2016 Observer Media Ltd