Maracha – St. Joseph’s Maracha Hospital, has undertaken training its staff to build capacity in readiness to handle cases of COVID-19 pandemic in Maracha district.
Administration of the Catholic Church founded hospital lobbied for the training from jhpiego corporation with funding from United Nations International Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF).
The three days training attracts over 50 health workers of the facility.
The hospital administrator, Dr. Taban Alphonse, at onset of the program, described it to Red Pepper, as “a relief”.
Being the only hospital in the district, St. Joseph’s-Maracha, Hospital serves as referral to one Health Centre IV and about eight Health Centre III units.
” It has being one of the plans of the hospital but we couldn’t do it due to lack of funds” Dr. Taban remarks.
He says that from the time World Health Organization declared COVID-19 as a global pandemic, management of the hospital sat to evaluate its operations and found that training and equipment were requisites for provision of services under COVID-19 pandemic.
“We sat for internal assessment to analyse areas of strength, weaknesses and threats that the pandemic would pose to the hospital” Dr. Taban explains.
“Among weaknesses we had were issues of staff training and inadequate knowledge existing among the staff to detect and be able to respond to cases of COVID-19 pandemic” the Hospital Directors stresses, adding that issues of inadequate equipment was another area of weakness and threat identified the management.
Mr. James Ekonga, a technical officer with Jhpiego cooperation in charge of reproductive maternal and newborn child health, explains that their efforts are intended to supplement the ministry of health to fight COVID-19 pandemic by providing software for health workers in West Nile region.
“It is a joint Ministry of Health, Government of Uganda, UNICEF, initiative to fight COVID-19 pandemic that has hit the country” Ekonga intimates to Red Pepper, saying Jhpiego contributes for the same cause like other agencies that are supporting combating COVID-19 pandemic.
He says Jhpiego takes the role of training health workers in all the hospitals West Nile including the Regional Referral Hospital in Arua.
“Arua Regional Referral Hospital and Kuluva Hospital are already done, Maracha is on going and we shall move to other districts in the region as time goes on” Mr. Ekonga intimates.
He says, not only Jhpiego that conducts training but also AVIS, and Italian organisation does the same and has an ongoing exercise at Maracha district headquarters in Maracha town council.
“Its not only Jhpiego conducting trainings, it’s combined effort with other agencies like AVIS which is currently training at the district headquarters” he disclose.
According to Ekonga, the various agencies are responding to Uganda government’s call to support training health workers and aid in any other requirements like Personal Protective Equipment.
The training that commencing on Wednesday focuses on preparing and equipping the health workers with knowledge on infection prevention and control, case management and psychosocial support to quarantined suspects amongst other areas.
“Here, we are looking at mainly infection prevention, control, case management, that is management of confirmed cases, in case we will have, like we so far have five in Arua hospital and then team is already on ground” he explains.
He points that since potential COVID-19 pandemic candidates in quarantine go through Psycho-social truama, the training empowers the health staff to offer healing support to the affected people.
Ekonga notes Surveillance system, Laboratory technics on how one takes samples, preserving and transporting as the main emphasis of the training.
The Jhpiego official says the first batch is trained to cascade knowledge to others in lower health centres who in turn will transfer the skills to the community as internal trainings keep going.
“We are conducting training to trainers (TOT) for Front line Health workers and subsequently, we are going to conduct Continuous Medical Education (CME), which will be internally done the various facilities. Those who have learnt something sit for an hour to share with others who do not have the knowledge and take them through” he stresses.
The key objective of the training is to equip health workers with knowledge and skills to activity do conduct tracing, identification of potential cases and refer where necessary for sample collections.
Additionally, its to equip the health workers with skills to manage the cases, especially at levels of health centres which are going to be potential treatment centres and isolation centres like Arua Regional Referral Hospital.
Mr. Ekonga urges the participants to acquire as much knowledge as they can, so as to support them on due cause of their duty and also impart the knowledge to their colleagues at lower health units who have not attended the training.
” As I talk now, we lack trainers. So I expect this team to cascade the training to health centre IVs and IIIs so that we are able to do active surveillance and referral from the lower facilities that do not have treatment and isolation centres” the Jhpiego officer stresses.
He observes that identifications and referrals are basically done at the lower facilities.
Mr. Ekonga warns in an adage that preparing the health workers to combat COVID-19 pandemic in the country does imply increase in its spread but a tactical move not to be caught unaware.
“They say, you prepare for the worst and if the worst doesn’t come, that’s good for you but if you prepare for the best and the worst comes, then you are not ready and that is disaster” he alarms.
“Much as Uganda has registered success, so far, in management of COVID-19 cases, we are not going to relax and say we have worn the battle” the trainer stresses.
He encourages the community to be vigilant and with high suspension index.
“If anybody shows signs like that of COVID-19, they should be able to advise the person to take the necessary steps such as self isolation as a preventive measure to avoid spreading the disease” says Mr. Ekonga.
The number of participants for training at St. Joseph’s Maracha Hospital is the largest in the district since outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.