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Luwero: Shs.200M Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) excites mothers

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A nurse attending to a premature baby at newly equipped Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Luwero hospital. PHOTO URN

Luwero, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | There is excitement among women after Luwero Hospital launched a newly equipped Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Every month, atleast 350-370 women give birth at Luwero Hospital of which 15% (55) need neonatal care services.

But all along Luwero Hospital has been referring premature babies to Kiwoko Hospital in Nakaseke district which has only 38 beds designed for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and located about 14 kilometers away.

Last year Luwero Hospital embarked on establishing a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) but they lacked both space and equipment. The hospital started the unit with one baby warmer and two adult beds where the children could be admitted.

Dr. Gloria Nakalema, a pediatrician at Luwero Hospital explains that atleast five babies could share one bed which may expose them to infections from each other.

Nakalema says the hospital has now designated enough space for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit on the second floor of a newly constructed building.

Nakalema explains that with support from Adara Development Organization, the facility has received equipment that includes baby warmers, baby coats, oxygen concentrators, and incubators among other equipment to handle premature babies.

She adds that currently, the hospital can admit 30 babies each in their bed and the hospital has deployed six nurses to operationalize the unit.

The equipment and remodeled unit were handed over to Luwero Hospital on Wednesday to start operations.

Madeline Vaughan, the Chief Executive Officer of Adara Development Organization says they have injected over 200 million to remodel the new ward and equip the unit to ensure it can host the babies.

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Vaughan adds that they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the hospital which will also enable them to train the nurses and repair the equipment to ensure they reduce newborn mortality.

Vaughan adds that they intend to open up the Neonatal Intensive Care units in ten hospitals in the next 10 years across the country.

Sylvia Nafuna, a mother from Kiyenje zone in Luwero town says that she delivered a 7-month-old baby last week but was relieved when they informed her that she will be admitted at the hospital’s new NICU till she makes nine months at free cost.

Florence Nalweyiso, a mother from Kazinga village in Butuntumula sub county says that she delivered on 11th January this year but later the baby developed complications in the body and was advised to seek admission in the new NICU.

She narrates that in the old NICU, the mothers were sleeping on the floor as they looked after babies admitted for treatment. Nalweyiso says that the new NICU provides enough space for mothers and their babies.

Other mothers say they were happy that they were saved from the costs involved in referring them to distant hospitals.

Erastus Kibirango, the LC 5 Chairman of Luwero district says that they have resolved as the district administration to channel more funds to the unit to ensure they get stable power and water supply to ensure their services are not interrupted at all times so that they save lives.

Atleast 435 babies have acquired neonatal care services in Luwero Hospital in the past six months and the numbers are likely to double with the launch of a newly equipped ward.

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