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Congestion Takes Toll on Arua Hospital Neonatal Unit

Suzan Tabu, the Principal Nursing Officer says although they are supposed to handle just 16 babies, on average they admit 150 babies in a month, which has overstretched the few workers at the unit.
A midwife attending to premature babies at Arua hospital neonatal care unit (Courtesy Photo)

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Health workers at Arua Regional Referral Hospital are grappling with the high number of premature births amidst limited space in the neonatal care unit.

The unit was designed to accommodate only 16 babies, especially those born before 28 weeks of gestation and those who are deemed to be unwell at birth.

However, the high numbers of premature and weak babies have forced the workers to pile three or more babies on the same bed.

Suzan Tabu, the Principal Nursing Officer says although they are supposed to handle just 16 babies, on average they admit 150 babies in a month, which has overstretched the few workers at the unit. She says the facility has only twelve incubators and five ordinary beds which are inadequate to accommodate all the pre-terms that need critical attention to ensure their survival.

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Mothers and caretakers seeking services at Arua Hospital are also worried about the situation saying it is a risk to their children’s lives.

Brenda Ezuru, one of the mothers says that she has seen medical workers removing some frail babies from beds to accommodate those deemed to be more critical. She however appealed to the government to construct a new unit or else provide additional beds so as to provide a good delivery environment for mothers and their babies.

“Just yesterday, one of the weak children was removed from the incubator in order to accommodate another critical child. Government should give us more beds and incubators”, she said.

Doctor Filbert Nyeko, the Hospital Director says that they have addressed the concerns with the Ministry of Health and promised to respond. He, however, advised pregnant women to ensure proper feeding to avoid complications requiring neonatal services. 

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Arua Regional Referral Hospital currently serves twelve districts in the West Nile sub-region, as well as receiving patients from the neighboring DRC and South Sudan.

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