According to health workers, the COVID-19 infections and deaths among health workers in the second wave are mainly due to lack of PPEs. In the last two weeks, nine doctors of have succumbed to the disease
The Uganda Medical Association- UMA has expressed concern about health
workers being forced to buy masks.
According to UMA, many doctors, especially those that are not
working in the COVID-19 treatment units and cannot afford 2,000 Shillings for a
re-usable mask or 1,000 Shillings for a medical mask are forced to re-use disposal
The doctors say the scarce supply of PPE especially facial masks is exposing many
health workers to COVID-19.
According to the health ministry, more than 300 health workers
have been infected with COVID-19 in the second wave with over 10 deaths
reported. In the first wave, the figure stood at over 1,800 infections and 20
By June 9, the COVID-19 incident report of Wakiso district showed
that 136 health workers have been infected with the disease in the second wave.
Three of them were re-infected twice.
Dr Frank Asiimwe, a urologist and also the chairman of doctor's
welfare at UMA says many health workers are now being forced to use masks for
three days if they can't afford to buy, which exposes many of their members to the disease.
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Dr Mukuzi Muhereza says due to a surge in COVID-19 cases at the
moment, hospitals are overcrowded yet doctors do not have adequate PPE. As a
result, many health workers are being infected.
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Geraldine Nkutu, a doctor at Mulago National Referral Hospital who
works in the emergency department says that she comes into contact with over 20
URN reporter saw Nkutu wearing a medical mask that is visibly dirty
and was planning buying a new facial mask. When asked why she is
buying a mask yet the government is supposed to provide them with masks, Nkutu
says she has no option.
"I was given one mask last week. If I do not buy one for
myself, I will expose myself to COVID," she said.
Dr Charles Olaro, the Director in charge of curative services at
the health ministry says that all health facilities are supposed to have
enough PPE, especially at the COVID-19 units.
"Ideally all health facilities are supposed to have enough
masks for all members of staff but shortages might be experienced when health
facilities are not able to order for masks on time," he said.
According to the health ministry's infection prevention
and control measures, health workers working in highly infectious environments
such as hospitals during a disease outbreak are supposed to change PPE like
masks every three hours at the minimum.
Doctors who work on high dependency
units or Intensive Care Units are supposed to change shifts every three hours
or more frequently to avoid burnout.
However, according to Dr Asiimwe, many doctors are working long
hours, especially with the surge in cases. As a result, more are being exposed
to the disease.
"They need to come up with a policy that will enable health
workers to work for shorter shifts.
Health workers are spending the whole day working in COVID-19
units and when they are tired, they tend to make mistakes while on the wards or
even in their homes and this is leading to avoidable infections," he