Uganda saw an increase in deaths among health care workers last month just as COVID-19 cases increased. Sixteen doctors died of the disease, while others are in intensive care.
Uganda Medical Association believes more than 100 health workers have died in the country because of the coronavirus pandemic since March of last year.
Dr. Mukuzi Muhereza, the association’s secretary general, said that number rose sharply last month.
“The biggest bit was the last two weeks when we lost 16. Some people are in intensive care and we are holding our fingers. And 14 were active clinicians and most likely got it from the hospitals.”
The death of 16 doctors coincides with a general rise in COVID-19 cases last month before the country instituted lockdown restrictions.
On July 5, Uganda registered 425 new cases, bringing the cumulative number to 84,979. More than 2,000 Ugandans have died of COVID-19.
According to investigations by the Ministry of Health, a total of 37 doctors have died of COVID during the pandemic. It says they all had underlying health conditions like diabetes and hypertension, or had not been vaccinated, or were of advanced age.
However, Ministry of Health spokesman Emmanuel Ainebyoona acknowledges that doctors and other health care workers in hospitals face elevated risks due to lack of protective gear and medical gloves.
He also said the government has been slow to give workers in COVID-19 units their extra pay for enduring risky conditions.
“Yes, there might always be delays. But these delays are sometimes not within our controls because they are based on availability of resources. But, we are doing our best as government. That’s why the Director General gave a guidance on double masking. And also, we commit to ensuring health workers always have what to use in the COVID treatment units and our health facilities,” he said.
Last week, the head of the ministry’s medical supplies agency, Dr. Moses Kamabare, said the increased number of infections has temporarily overwhelmed the ministry’s ability to deliver personal protective equipment to all hospitals that need it.
Kamabare said expanded deliveries will begin next week.