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Deficient Power Supply Hampers Hospital Operations, Health Minister Dr. Acheng Informs MPs

In a recent address to Members of Parliament, the Minister of Health, Hon. Jane Ruth Aceng, highlighted the critical issue of deficient power supply in hospitals across the country, posing a significant challenge to the operation of key medical equipment. The Minister’s concerns shed light on the pressing need for infrastructure upgrades to support healthcare facilities in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Aceng emphasized that despite the procurement of high-capacity oxygen plants for all specialized and regional referral hospitals, the power delivered by single-phase transformers to these facilities is insufficient to operate the vital equipment. Single-phase transformers are typically used in domestic and residential settings, making them ill-suited for the energy demands of medical facilities.

“The Ministry of Energy is aware of the issue. All hospitals require three-phase transformers, but they are currently connected to one-phase transformers. My humble appeal is that our health facilities should be connected to industrial power lines,” Minister Aceng stressed.

To address the ongoing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Minister disclosed that all 16 regional referral hospitals were equipped with 10 intensive care units, but these crucial units also face disruptions due to the unstable power supply.

Parliamentarians raised concerns about the state of hospitals and their capacity to handle COVID-19 and other healthcare needs for Ugandans. Hon. Henry Kibalya, representing Bugabula County South, inquired about the progress of promises made to equip regional referral hospitals after the COVID-19 surge.

Nwoya District Woman Representative, Hon. Judith Acan, expressed her concerns about the unstable power supply affecting hospital operations. She noted instances where hospitals would switch off power due to insufficient funds to pay electricity bills, hindering patients from accessing essential medical equipment.

During the parliamentary session, Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa expressed concern over the diversion of funds meant for utilities and the underbudgeting for critical priorities during the budget cycle. He suggested that one solution could be deducting money for utilities at the source to ensure timely payment to utility companies.

Tayebwa directed the Prime Minister to convene an inter-ministerial meeting involving the Ministers for Health, Energy, and Finance to address the situation of one-phase transformers in hospitals. A report on their findings and proposed solutions is expected to be submitted to the House within 30 days.

In response to the Minister’s statement on the status of COVID-19 in the country, some legislators raised concerns about the safety and efficacy of vaccines being administered. Hon. Susan Amero, representing Amuria District, questioned the safety of the vaccines, while Hon. Sylvia Bahireira, the Kamwenge District Woman Representative, highlighted the prevalence of myths regarding vaccine side effects.

Minister Aceng urged legislators to caution their constituents against anti-vaxxer misinformation campaigns and to seek accurate information from reputable sources and published research to ensure the public’s health and safety.

The challenges faced by healthcare facilities due to inadequate power supply underscore the urgent need for infrastructure improvements and enhanced coordination between relevant ministries to ensure that hospitals can operate effectively, especially during a public health crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic.

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