The deficient power supply to hospitals across the country poses a challenge in operating key equipment, the Minister of Health, Hon. Jane Ruth Aceng, has told MPs.
Aceng revealed that despite the procurement of high-capacity oxygen plants for all specialized and regional referral hospitals, the power delivered by the single-phase transformers to the facilities cannot run the equipment.
According to available information, single-phase transformers typically distribute power to end users in domestic and residential settings.
“The Ministry of Energy is aware. All the hospitals need three-phase transformers but are connected to one-phase transformers. My humble appeal is that our health facilities are connected to industrial lines,” she said.
To protect against future threats owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the minister said that all 16 regional referral hospitals were each equipped with 10 intensive care units whose operations are also challenged by power supply.
The minister said this in response to concerns by legislators on the state of hospitals to handle cases of COVID-19 and other conditions faced by Ugandans.
Hon. Henry Kibalya (NRM, Bugabula County South) said a lot was promised to regional referral hospitals after the COVID-19 surge, and had tasked the minister to update Parliament on how far the promises to equip the hospitals, have gone.
Nwoya District Woman Representative, Hon. Judith Acan, said unstable power supply in hospitals has affected their operations.
“There are tendencies at hospitals where they switch off power and say they do not have enough funds to pay for electricity bills. How are patients supposed to use machines that require this power?” Acan queried.
The Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa, while chairing plenary on Wednesday, 11 October 2023, observed that MDAs divert funds meant for utilities, and under budget for such priorities during the budget cycle.
“One of the solutions we talked about is deducting money for utilities at source so that we pay utility companies right away,” Tayebwa said.
He directed the Prime Minister to call an inter-ministerial meeting to address electricity stability in regional hospitals.
“I want you to meet with the Ministers for Health, Energy, and Finance to address the situation of the one-phase transformers in hospitals, and give a report to the House within 30 days,” Tayebwa guided.
Responding to the health minister’s statement on the status of COVID-19 in the country, some legislators raised concerns about the vaccines that are being administered.
“I want to know from the minister if we have taken an interest to find out whether these vaccines are really good for us or there are some complications that come after receiving them,” asked Hon. Susan Amero (Indp., Amuria District Woman Representative).
Kamwenge District Woman Representative, Hon. Sylvia Bahireira, noted that there are many myths about the side effects of vaccination that have caused laxity in reception.
Aceng urged legislators to warn their constituents against anti-vaxxers who de-campaign vaccines aimed at improving people’s health.
“Even before we roll out the malaria vaccine, I have already seen a lot of information from anti-vaxxers, which is not healthy. Whenever you see information on social media, please go to published research and verify it” the Minister advised.