Maracha – The District COVID-19 pandemic task force opened its quarantine centre for use with first two beneficiaries entering lockdown on Tuesday, May 12.
The District Health Officer, Dr. Paul Onzubo reveals to RedPepper Digital that the suspects include one Democratic Republic of Congo citizen and another, a Ugandan from the district.
Dr. Onzubo, however, declined to divulge details of the suspects, saying it was unethical.
“By law and ethics, it is not allowed to mention who the suspects are, but they are persons, one is a resident of Maracha and the other is someone who allegedly came from DR Congo,” Dr. Onzubo reveals.
He noted that with the two suspects of COVID-19, Maracha district was compelled to open its quarantine centre prematurely, with some elements not in place.
“In a view that we already have the two COVID-19 pandemic suspects, we have to operationalize the quarantine centre” he states.
The former area Woman Member of Parliament, Hon. Ruth Lematia had offered her privately owned Anne Nehma Memorial International Health Science Institute in Oleba sub county, to accommodate COVID-19 pandemic suspected cases.
But all along the district has been grappling with lack of funds to accomplish establishment of the centre ready for use.
“Unfortunately, we don’t have the required equipment and supplies to start to operationalize a particular quarantine centre but as we have the two persons for isolation, we need to open the facility” the district chief medic explains.
Dr. Onzubo intimates that the district took the decision to keep the suspects in the institutional centre after they deified home-based quarantine.
“The two suspects would have been managed in individual private home based quarantine but they defied the directives. So we now move to keep them at institutional centre” The DHO discloses without giving details of their defiance.
Maracha district had earmarked Oleba Health centre III for isolation of COVID-19 pandemic cases in if at all one happens to be found and Anne Nehma Memorial, as a quarantine centre but due to financial constraints, both centres remained static.
“The Isolation centre meeds more than UGX18M, to meet the required standard of World Health Organization and Centre for Disease prevention, and now we don’t have that money, our focus is on the quarantine centre” Dr. Onzubo discloses why the district taskforce abandoned establishing the isolation centre.
He says roles of managing cases in isolation centres has now been left to Regional Referral Hospitals until the matter becomes out of control.
“We resorted to concentrate only on quarantine centre because an isolation centre is meant for keeping probable confirmed cases which by policy, are right now being managed at Regional Referral Hospitals until that time we have overwhelming cases of COVID-19 pandemic that is when we shall have spillovers to the district facilities” Dr. Onzubo laboriously explains.
The rocky task before the district COVID-19 taskforce, is to establish a functional quarantine centre, Dr. Onzubo says.
“For now, we are emphasising on equipping the quarantine centre because it’s the prime responsibility of the District taskforce to see to it that people who are being suspected either by the community or health professionals or people of I known status who come from elsewhere can be contained In such a place, away from the general public that’s why our emphasis is on the quarantine centre” the DHO narrates.
RedPepper Digital has independently established that the quarantine centre lacks beddings, washing facilities, utensils, as well as food supplies for the patients.
Maracha district COVID-19 taskforce is also cash stripped to pay allowances for those not in the list to benefit from the Ugx. 165M remitted from the central government.
“We could borrow beds from another health centre but we can’t do so for utensils and other aspects like food supplies and ingredients. On security, we have police and army but no food and allowances for them as we are informed that that is special assignment that requires allowances ” Dr. Onzubo laments.
Dr. Onzubo intimates that most districts are struggling to meet their financial demands in managing issues of COVID-19 pandemic.
“When it comes to finances, we should have been having 3 sources, the district routine resources for service delivery, implementing partners and from people of good will and finally, the national releases. Unfortunately, the national releases were limited to three areas of allowances at 50 %, fuel at 30% and 20% on welfare which didn’t include those other items” Dr. Onzubo’s lamentations continue.
He says Maracha district doesn’t have many partners like other districts with big donors.
“Coming to implementing partners, we only received funds inform of fuel and supplies like Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). We received mattresses from KK Group and lots of gaps still remain” he notes.
The district’s principal health inspector, Mr. Okudra Russal Jurua is not contended with the level of preparedness of health workers to handle cases of COVID-19 pandemic. He says Maracha has been neglected in training aspect.
“All our health workers are not adequately trained. What do we do? How do we respond on an incidence? A’m very sure if we reported an incidence of COVID-19 right now in Maracha, all our health workers would take off. I want to assure you without any shame, they would take off” Mr. Okudra emphasises.
He discloses that at one time, an official from the ministry of health came to conduct six hours training of health workers purportedly to handle COVID-19 pandemic.
“A colleague came here and trained UA for six hours, the second one come and trained again for six hours. What do you do with such training of six hours? We need comprehensive training” Mr. Okudra expresses, saying at least AVIS conducted two days training of the health workers in the district.
The district LC 5 boss, Adiga Lawrence Ozubia, who leads the mobilization team of the taskforce, says recent donation from Save the Maracha girls amounting to Ugx. 200, 000/ was directed to be used to purchase some of the requirements for the quarantine centre.
Adiga discloses UNFPA This Year Danish Church Aid and Ma’di and West Nile Diocese as other recent donors to the district COVID-19 pandemic taskforce.
“UNFPA has donated fuel over Ugx. 4 M, Save the Maracha girl donated Ugx. 200,000, Bishop of Madi and West Nile Diocese has given us Ugx. 500,000 and This Year Danish Church Aid has donated handwashing facilities, 200 litres of fuel, facemasks, gumboots, and megaphones for the DTF which items will be delivered soon” Adiga recounts these as big external contributors to Maracha DTF including the 50 hospital mattresses from KK Group company.