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Logistical Challenges Hamper Maternal Healthcare at Iganga General Hospital :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Logistical Challenges Hamper Maternal Healthcare at Iganga General Hospital

Agnes Batana, the head of Iganga Hospital's maternity ward, points out that Kangaroo care is a practical solution to address the challenges posed by limited space and beds. The neonatal ward has only 15 beds but receives nearly 20 neonatal babies from six districts within its catchment area.
Part of Iganga hospital's neonatal ward.

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Linda Namutebi, a resident of Iganga municipality, has been caring for her preterm baby in the neonatal ward at Iganga Hospital for the past week. However, due to the rising number of premature births, her child receives Kangaroo care for at least 14 hours a day since they share the bed with two other infants.

Namutebi describes the situation as distressing, and she depends on support from her relatives to maintain the right temperature for her child. She explains, "Initially, we had full-time access to the preterm bed for 24 hours, but we've been sharing it with two other babies, and now we only have access for six hours. Extended Kangaroo care is challenging, and I can manage it with the help of my sisters who have dedicated their time to ensure my child's well-being."

Another mother, who requested anonymity, shares her concerns about the overcrowded neonatal ward, where both male and female caregivers expose their chests while providing Kangaroo care. She says, "My mother and I jointly conduct Kangaroo care for my baby, but the lack of privacy is a significant issue in this crowded room." She suggests that officials from the Ministry of Health should consider expanding the neonatal ward to include changing rooms, sanitary facilities, and resting areas. This expansion would not only offer dignity to caregivers but also promote hygiene in the unit.

Agnes Batana, the head of Iganga Hospital's maternity ward, points out that Kangaroo care is a practical solution to address the challenges posed by limited space and beds. The neonatal ward has only 15 beds but receives nearly 20 neonatal babies from six districts within its catchment area. These babies include preterm infants and those with serious medical conditions, all competing for the same limited resources.  

Batana highlights the shortage of adequate oxygen concentrators, with the hospital borrowing surplus units from other wards to meet demand. Additionally, the ward has only two monitors to cover more than 20 beds, which results in delayed healthcare for the infants requiring monitoring.

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She further mentions that the unit faces frequent power outages and inadequate power supplies, leading to infant mortality rates of 20-30 deaths per month.

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Space is another critical issue in the maternity ward. Although designed for 40 mothers, they have improvised an additional 12 beds to accommodate 52. Still, they admit an average of 60 mothers daily. Some mothers are even forced to lay on the floor, and others are discharged prematurely to free up space for mothers in labor.

While the causes of preterm births are not entirely clear, Batana attributes the increasing trend to high malaria cases in their catchment area. Many mothers hesitate to seek antimalarial treatment, leading to anemia and premature labor. Domestic violence is also a contributing factor, as some men severely beat their wives in sensitive areas, leading to premature births. 

High blood pressure and the preference for traditional birth attendants are other factors that result in preterm births. Mothers often lack knowledge about their medical history and receive inadequate care, even during C-section procedures, which can lead to the loss of infants during delivery.

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