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Kitgum Quarantine Centers Closed Over Lack of Funds

According to Dr Okello, inadequate funds has greatly affected the morale of volunteers in the various taskforce committees citing that many have since left.
Dr Geoffrey Okello, Acting Medical Superintendant Kitgum General Hospital

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Kitgum district taskforce has closed down all coronavirus quarantine centers over lack of funds. 

The centers are Pandwong Health Center III and St Joseph’s Hospital all in Kitgum Municipality which has been closed for the past two weeks and one month respectively.

They were opened in March to quarantine both male and female COVID-19 suspects.

The district taskforce has been relying on part of 165 million Shillings supplementary budget disbursed by the Ministry of Finance and donations from well-wishers to support the running of the centers, however, the funds have since been fully utilized.

Dr Geoffrey Okello, the acting medical superintendent of Kitgum General Hospital also the head of case management says currently, they don’t have any contact or suspect at the quarantine center arguing that, the situation puts the fight against the coronavirus in total jeopardy.

He notes that there had been plans to upgrade the treatment center established at Kitgum General Hospital but lack of funds has affected its progress.

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According to Dr Okello, inadequate funds has greatly affected the morale of volunteers in the various taskforce committees citing that many have since left.

Last month, the Ministry of Health released additional 1.8 Billion Shillings to 50 districts to boost the fight against the COVID- 19 pandemics. Kitgum district among the 50 districts was allocated 31 Million Shillings.

But Dr Alex Olwedo, the Kitgum District Health Officer says that they haven’t yet received the cash limit from the government on spending the money disbursed for COVID-19 fight

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Dr Olwedo notes that as such, they have been unable to keep suspected patients at the once designated quarantine centers due to fear of incurring expenses.

He says with the recent home care guidelines released by the Health Ministry for management of asymptomatic patients, the use of quarantine centers may be less relevant in times when the district is in financial crisis.

Dr Pamela Atim  Okot, the Executive Director St Joseph’s Hospital Kitgum where female COVID-19 patients had been undergoing quarantine says they now intend to utilize the facility for a different purpose.

“We were informed almost a month ago that the district COVID-19 task force was in a financial crisis so they couldn’t sustain keeping patients at the facility, it has been closed since then. However, we now won’t be offering quarantining services because we will be demolishing the structure for a different purpose,” Dr Atim told URN on Monday.

Efforts to get comments from Martin Jacan Gwokto on this story was futile by press time as he didn’t answer our repeated phone calls.

The district health department is also currently grappling with a shortage of personal protective equipment for the frontline health workers, a situation that has crippled collection of samples from suspected COVID-19 patients. 

Kitgum District has registered 256 cases of Covid-19 with 163 from inmates at Kitgum Central Prison.

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