Butiaba health workers flee Lake Albert floods

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Health workers at Butiaba Health Centre 3 in Buliisa District pack their household property after Lake Albert water submerged their staff quarter. The health workers have relocated to Butiaba primary school staff quarter. (All photos by John Kibego)

Health workers at Butiaba Health Centre 3 have been displaced by the rising water levels of Lake Albert in Butiaba Sub-county, Buliisa District.

Mr Moses Kaahwa, the in charge of Butiaba health facility says that four health workers including two midwives and two enrolled nurses have been evacuated from their premises after their staff quarter was submerged by the lake water.

The health care givers have now shifted to Butiaba primary school where they are currently being accommodated in the staff quarters since teachers went back home after the closure of schools due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Kaahwa discloses that this has affected service delivery since mothers in labour have been easily accessing the midwives on site even at night.

Audio: Kaahwa on submerged staff quarter (English)

The clinician adds that the number of expectant mothers seeking antenatal and maternal services has reduced ever since the lake overflowed a month ago.

He says that last month, the facility helped 42 mothers to deliver against the monthly 50-60 expectant mothers because the road has been submerged by the ever rising water levels.

In the meantime, antenatal outreaches are being scaled up in the sub-county, he discloses, to help expectant mothers to access the services.

Audio: Kaahwa on scaling up antenatal outreaches (English)
Men cross a submerged road leading to Butiaba health centre in a canoe.

The thigh-high overflowing water has also affected other patients now paying between Shs500-Shs1,000 to be paddled in a canoe on the originally regularly used shortest route to cross to the dry patch of land that also continues to be submerged after a single blowing breeze from the lake pushing the overflowed water farther towards the escarpment.

So far, the lake water has moved close to 500 metres towards the health establishment.

Mr Kaahwa says that patients using an alternative route are incurring more transport charges since it takes longer to reach the facility.

This has also reduced the number of patients visiting the facility for health care.

Audio: Kaahwa on alternative route (English)

Butiaba health centre used to admit 10 patients on average but ever since the road was cut off, the number has reduced to three, reveals Mr Kaahwa.

The in charge says that combined efforts with the area Sub-county LC 3 Chairman, Mr Mugenyi Malitabu, to have the road to the facility worked on based on the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) failed since the Chinese engineers constructing the Butiaba Road in the area said that it was a “real project” that needed more financial resources because they were “dealing with a lake not a river.”

Asked the next step if the water submerges the entire health facility, Mr Kaahwa says health services will either be shifted to Butiaba primary school or Butiaba sub-county headquarters.

Lake Albert water submerges Butiaba Health Cantre 3 staff quarter.

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