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{UAH} Mulago probes baby deaths

Mulago probes baby deaths

Babies on life support at Kawempe Referral Hospital

Critical. Babies on life support at Kawempe Referral Hospital last year. PHOTO BY DOMINIC BUKENYA  

By Shamim Nateebwa

Kampala. Mulago hospital has tasked doctors at the Kawempe Referral Hospital to come out with a report on the three babies who died at the facility recently.
The Mulago Hospital spokesperson, Mr Enoch Kusasira, said the doctors should explain to the public the actual cause of the deaths, insisting that oxygen deficiency is not the cause as was reported in the media yesterday.

"In fact, these babies were underweight and they had other complications that made them to be taken to the ICU [Intensive Care Unit]. For that matter, doctors should tell the public what exactly caused the deaths of these babies," Mr Kusasira said in an interview yesterday.

This newspaper yesterday reported that three babies died due to lack of oxygen at Kawempe Referral Hospital, which is currently handling Mulago National Referral Hospital's obstetrics and gynecology department. The three pre-term babies who passed last Thursday after the oxygen in the cylinder they were sharing got used up.

However, Mr Kusasira said theatres and intensive care units can never run out of oxygen since it is one of the basic needs for their operations.
"The death of those kids has nothing to do with oxygen because the special care unit on Thursday and Friday as well as any other cannot run out of oxygen. If these deaths had happened elsewhere in other departments, then it would be right to blame it on oxygen," said Mr Kusasira.

He added that as a hospital, they will investigate the cause of the deaths but declined to reveal when the investigations will kick off and who will be the lead investigator.
According to the spokesperson, the hospital has never had an oxygen shortage at the theatres and care units.
He explained that on the two fateful days, the lower oxygen plant, which is the main one, was not refilling well because it was being serviced and thus resorted to the new one based at upper Mulago.

"Like any other machine, our equipment is also supposed to be serviced from time to time, so on the fateful day, the oxygen plant in upper Mulago was filling slowly because it is still new, so this affected the supply of oxygen in the hospital and also slowed down the process, making the number of cylinders taken to Kiruddu and Kawempe few," said Mr Kusasira.

On sale of oxygen
He explains that the cause of the deaths of the babies has totally nothing to do with oxygen.
On allegations that oxygen is sold to private hospitals, Mr Kusasira says oxygen from Mulago is only supplied to Kirudu and Kawempe and sometimes to Naguru on request.

"Those who allege that we sell oxygen to private hospitals should now bring evidence because our oxygen is only taken to the above hospitals," he said.
Ms Noor Nakibuuka, the programmes director Centre for Health Human Rights and Development, a health rights NGO, promised to come up with a statement over the matter.

"We have been reading and getting information in the dailies; probably we shall sit tomorrow as an organisation and discuss on what our move will be," said Ms Nakibuuka. 
Our sources say oxygen supply to the facility has been deficient for the last three weeks, hence frustrating the medical workers.


Gwokto La'Kitgum
"Even a small dog can piss on a tall building" Jim Hightower

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