Moroto district is struggling with rising cases of the cholera outbreak with 109 cholera cases and four deaths confirmed as the district strives to prepare for the fight against COVID-19.
The District Health Officer Dr Charles Onyang told the Parliamentary task force on COVID-19 that cholera had so far spread to 25 villages and eight parishes.
Onyang said that Natapar Kocuc community where an index case was recorded, this village still uses unsafe water meant for cattle for home consumption.
“Currently we have discharged 72 patients and each patient is given soap on their way home,” Onyang said.
He added that the process to repair the village borehole in Natapac Kocuc had started and the engine solar-powered water source was also repaired.
He said that Moroto had received drugs for treatment and testing kits from the Ministry of Health and development partners.
“The Ministry and development partners have so far provided prophylaxis for treatment and water chlorination tablets and some vehicles for the management of the outbreak of cholera,” he said.
The Director Moroto Hospital Dr Ben Watmon said Moroto has had challenges of inadequate medical staff.
“We currently have challenges of shortage of staff since the medical team has been divided between the cholera response team and COVID-19 team,” he said.
Watmon said that another challenge being faced is the COVID-19 scare. People are running away from the hospital.
“We have registered a fall in the patient numbers at Moroto hospital because people are scared of COVID-19 yet Cholera was also posing challenges,” Watmon said.
He added that the district was also facing a shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) because of the overwhelming numbers of porous border points.
Watmon said urged the government to consider adding the district more vehicles because Karamoja region has challenges of network coverage yet supervision is meant to be done by persons on the ground.
Hon Spellanza Baguma, the vice-chair to the Parliament COVID-19 taskforce said that the hospital infrastructure is also in a sorry state and urgent attention is needed to uplift the Hospital.
“We visited Soroti, Katakwi, and Moroto Hospitals but the infrastructure is so poor that some buildings are rotting away yet they still have people staying in them,” Baguma said.
She added that Katakwi hospital wasn’t yet in position to handle COVID-19 cases since the quarantine centre was not yet properly facilitated.
When we visited Katakwi Hospital, their quarantine centre had only a capacity of three beds which is so small given the number of suspects Teeso region is getting,” she said.
She added that the government should put more effort into supplying protective gear for the health workers to boost their morale knowing that they are also protected.
Baguma also thanked the district health teams for working in such hard conditions where people didn’t have where to reside especially the front-liners handling the COVID-19 cases and suspects.
We have noted that Soroti, Katakwi, and Moroto district don’t have staff houses for medical staff directly handling COVID-19. This puts their families at high risk since they always have to go back home,” she said.
She also noted that due to the inadequacies in the network in Karamoja sub-region, Moroto was facing challenges of relaying COVID-19 results, making it difficult to trace truck drivers should there be any positive case.