Residents of Namutumba have reason to smile as the district referral hospital starts blood transfusion services.
Since its construction in 1990 and 2005 when it became a district referral hospital, the facility has never had blood transfusion services due to lack of a water bath at the blood bank’s centre, leaving the facility to only carry out routine blood tests.
“However, as medics, we are now happy that blood transfusion services are going to be done here after we restored a water bath, refrigerators and are currently working on a standby generator so that we do not transmit cold blood,” Dr Allan Lubiite, the head of the facility, said at the weekend.
Dr Lubiite said the delay to have all facilities in place was due to financial constraints. He added that other services such as surgery would also resume.
“We have been receiving anaemic patients, both children and expectant mothers, who were being referred to Iganga and Mbale regional referral hospitals which is no longer going to be the case,” he said.
Dr Lubiite revealed that they had stationed a standby ambulance at the facility to carry anaemic patients from health centre IIIs to Nsinze, where the referral hospital is located.
“We have been referring patients to Iganga and the challenge has been that we have not been following up on them to know whether they got blood or not. We are now going to monitor them from here at no cost,” he added.
Mr Amos Ssempala Kigozi, the Namutumba Resident District Commissioner (RDC), said the hospital attracts patients on a daily basis from different parts of the district.
“As government, we are grateful for this success; it has not been easy but the government is willing to offer much more to extend services to people because it’s their mandate. Referring patients to Iganga or Mbale had its implications. As medics were not sure whether whoever was sent received blood or not,” Mr Ssempala said.
He added: “All efforts are now being geared towards rallying people, mainly school-going children to donate blood as there is no way the facility will function when there is no blood. People must be encouraged to donate blood.”
Mr John Baptist Bagise, the outgoing Nsinze Sub-county chairperson, said during the recent campaigns, locals kept chasing him away from burial ceremonies for allegedly not doing much to have a functional blood bank.
“As leaders, we did our part and it was the government delaying the process of providing the facility with necessary equipment used in blood transfusion. But as blood transfusion starts, we do not want to hear that blood is being sold to patients,” he said.
Mr Bagise called for routine maintenance of the blood bank centre. “I do not want to hear that the blood bank worked for only a month or year and broke down,” he said.
Mr David Mukisa, the district chairperson-elect, said government had been portrayed in bad light as the referral hospital lacked a blood bank.
Ms Farida Nabukwasi, a resident of Kibaale Village in Bukono County, applauded the district leadership for its efforts.
“One day, I went to Nsinze after becoming anaemic and was referred to Iganga. But good enough, I got blood there although I incurred a lot of transport costs,” she said.
Ms Susan Namagero, a resident of Nakawunzo Village in Nawaikona Sub-county, said they are soon going to advocate for the construction of another district referral hospital.