Uganda: Panic as cholera patients slip out of Naguru hospital

Kampala- Authorities at Naguru hospital are hunting two suspected cholera patients who escaped from the facility yesterday, claiming they had been neglected and forced to dip into their pockets to buy medicine.

The victims, only identified as Nalongo and John escaped from the government isolation facility at Naguru hospital and went back to their homes in Kabowa, a Kampala suburb, also the epicenter of the latest outbreak.

“The [Naguru Hospital] executive director told me the patients ran away from the hospital, and they are looking for them.

These patients should not complain in case of anything,” Mr Emmanuel Ainebyoona, the senior public relations officer Ministry of Health, told Daily Monitor yesterday.

Some residents who talked to Daily Monitor yesterday said the suspected patients looked okay.

However, most of the residents were afraid of getting sick and asked the authorities to look for the two people.

Mr Ainebyoona dismissed claims that Naguru hospital was charging patients money for medication.

“All medication is available at the hospital and actually some of the patients are being handled by the director of the hospital himself.

Those are just rumours,” Mr Ainebyoona said.

Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) officials visited Kabowa yesterday to assess the situation and sensitise the residents on the outbreak.

The KCCA team also banned food vending in the area. But as the team entered Ssembabule Zone, they were greeted by a heap of garbage and open stinking drainage.

The residents blamed the cholera outbreak on KCCA failure to monitor hygiene and sanitation issues in Kampala.

The residents led by their councillor, Mr Juma Lubega, attributed the poor sanitation in the area to high amounts charged by one of the companies KCCA contracted to collect garbage in the area.

“Each person is charged Shs3,000 per week for the garbage and this is a lot of money.

This forces some of the residents to sleep with the garbage in the house, some use it as mattresses yet others dump in drainage system or in the toilets,” Mr Lubega said.

It was noted that many residents also do not have pit latrines and as a result they dump faecal matter into Nalukolongo drainage channel.

“Whenever it rains, water enters people’s houses yet it’s full of every kind of dirt, human waste, urine name it and the public toilet that we had was demolished by KCCA,” Mr Lubega explained.

Mr Mubbala Balam, an inspection officer in the directorate of public health and environment at KCCA, however, accused residents of constructing toilets near the drainage as well as dumping “all sorts of the dirt in the drainage channel” while some people including landlords have refused to construct pit latrines.

“Tenants will be registered, and all local leaders should be in position to check out for those without toilets,” Mr Mubala said.

By Daily Monitor

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