Mbarara Hospital breaks ground for construction of Shs7bn neonatal ICU complex

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Mbarara Hospital breaks ground for construction of Shs7bn neonatal ICU complex
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Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital has started construction works of a modern neonatal intensive care unit valued at $1.9 million (about Shs7 billion)

The facility is being constructed with a grant from the World Bank will sit on four floors, making Mbarara hospital the first of the 17 regional referral facilities across the country to have a neonatal ICU.

The construction of the facility is expected to be complete in six months by GESES Uganda Limited as the contractor to be commissioned by December 2024.

The NICU complex is aimed at solving the perinatal deaths in not only the western region but the country as whole.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), perinatal mortality is the death of a baby between 28 weeks of gestation onwards and before the first 7 days of life.

While officiating at the groundbreaking, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Dr Diana Atwine, said the NICU will help check the increasing neonatal deaths by raising accessibility of the neonatal services across the region.

“Many of our mothers after delivering preterm babies, they have had to be referred and travel long journeys to access neonatal services," she said.

"Many do not make it and this facility will increase accessibility to the neonatal services by the mothers and their babies,” Dr Atwine said.

The PS said much as the structure is to be in place, the service from that structure is the most important.

"We need to equip the facility with the medical equipment and human resource like neonatologists, pediatricians among other specialists when it's fully functional,” she added.

Dr Diana Atwine during the commissioning of the construction works of the NICU facility in Mbarara on Tuesday

According to Dr Elias Kumbakumba, the head of paediatrics at Mbarara Hospital, they have attracted a huge section of the populace not only across the region but the whole country.

“We serve a population that stretches from Kisoro to Masaka, Hoima sometimes and we also get patients who come looking for specific services of newborns as far as Jinja and Nakasongola because we have a team of experts that provide newborn care services,” Dr Kumbakumba said.

“We have been providing a very complex service within very small space and the NICU will solve the space challenges and will cater for at least 100 babies at ago at different categories and we hope that by the end of construction in December, we will get equipment from world bank and partners and well-wishers.”

Eng Peter Nkurunungi, the director GESES Uganda, assured the ministry and stakeholders that they will work day and night seeking cooperation from the hospital in terms of environment, security and order.

“We hope that by December we will be done because we will work 24 hours day and night, we had issues with the ground because of the soil typ,” Nkurunungi said.

Mbarara Hospital's paediatric department admits 3,000 babies every year and 35 in every 100 babies of those admitted annually require neonatal care services, and the neonatal mortality currently stands at 5 percent.

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