Picture: Wikimedia Commons
KAMPALA: Public hospitals in Uganda have been hit by shortages of essential medicines and supplies needed for emergency care, a health workers’ association said, further hurting services at facilities already struggling after years of neglect.

The shortages are affecting the East African country’s main Mulago Hospital, which handles serious cases referred to it from other facilities, the Uganda Medical Association (UMA) said.

Most patients in Uganda seek care at public health facilities, although private hospitals whose services are beyond the reach of many are common.

UMA president Ekwaro Obuku said government hospitals were experiencing serious shortages of basic medicines for emergency care, such as vaccines and other drugs, syringes, gloves, catheters, gauze and others.

“Mothers and their babies are at increased risk of death if something is not done urgently,” Obuku said.

At least one woman had died as a result of the shortages, Obuku said.

Vivian Nakaliika Serwanjja, the health ministry spokesperson, said shortages had been caused by financial disruption at the government agency responsible for procurement of medical supplies. “But the scarcities are not widespread,” she said, adding that only a few hospitals had been affected, and supplies had started being delivered.

Critics of President Yoweri Museveni say the chronically under-funded health sector is a victim of his luxury lifestyle in which he flies around in a private jet.

Rather than being tended to in poor medical facilities at home, top government officials often fly to India and South Africa for treatment. - Reuters