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IRC launches new partnership with Kabarole District

November 11th 2020 at 11:02

New project on supporting WASH in healthcare facilities in the fight against COVID-19.

Fort Portal, Kabarole, UGANDA. 11 November 2020 - IRC Uganda today launches a new project with Kabarole District Local Government to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 through strengthening water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in healthcare facilities.

IRC has through funding of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation supported Kabarole District to achieve universal access to WASH through the Safe Water Strategy since 2018. In March 2020 when Uganda confirmed the first COVID-19 case, both the WASH and healthcare sectors experienced immense pressure as services that were essential in prevention and control of the spread of the infection were limited. IRC responded through support to Kabarole District Health Office with various interventions including emergency provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to healthcare workers; improvement of sanitation and hand hygiene facilities in health centres; provision of drinking water kits to healthcare facilities and Infection Prevention and Control mentorships, among others.

"The pandemic has made obvious what we knew all along: that water, sanitation and hygiene are the first line of defence against many infections. As we embrace the new normal, full coverage of WASH services in all institutions is a must, starting with healthcare facilities" – Jane Nabunnya Mulumba, Country Director IRC Uganda.

The one-year project implemented with USD 154,000 funding from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation will deliver long-term interventions in infection prevention and control including COVID-19, through strengthening the district healthcare system and modelling comprehensive WASH in healthcare services.

"This partnership between IRC and Kabarole District is in line with IRC's goal to strengthen district capacities to provide lasting WASH services for all," says Ms. Mulumba. "We are making a deliberate statement that while COVID-19 has hit us hard, future resilience and sustainability of healthcare service delivery can only be guaranteed by good governance and management of water, sanitation and hygiene services in healthcare facilities."

Kabarole District will with this funding increase awareness about COVID-19 prevention and response efforts through risk communications and hygiene promotion; strengthen protection and safety of healthcare workers through provision of PPE and mentorship in infection and prevention control; and articulate standard WASH governance and management of healthcare facilities through model healthcare centres. The funding will also support capacity strengthening of the district health teams and healthcare workers for sustained WASH engagement andβ€―behaviour change.

Investing in healthcare facilities saves lives–video from Uganda

November 4th 2020 at 10:51

This video makes an appeal for more funding for water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) in healthcare facilities in Uganda.

People go to healthcare facilities to be treated for illnesses, but they can also fall ill there because of healthcare associated infections. Both patients and health workers are at risk when exposed to unhygienic surroundings, poor sanitation, improper disposal of medical equipment and contaminated water. In Kabarole District in Uganda, healthcare facilities are facing all these challenges. A 2019 assessment report of 40 healthcare facilities brings up the sad figures:

  • 65% met the required water standards
  • 38% met the required sanitation standards
  • 5% met the hand hygiene standards
  • 0% met the environmental cleaning standards

IRC has together with the help of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation started with interventions to improve the situation in 30 government healthcare facilities. They are focusing on sanitation, hand hygiene and access to safe drinking water. Renovation of latrines is being done by the Hand Pump Mechanics Association so that they meet the WHO standards. To improve hygiene standards IRC, Centers for Disease Control and Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI) have distributed hand sanitisers to all healthcare facilities in Kabarole. This made them well prepared for COVID-19. However, still a lot remains to be done.

IRC Uganda Country Director Jane Nabunnya Mulumba appeals to the Ministry of Health to recruit and to retain more staffing for healthcare facilities. And to budget for it! She is also appealing to both the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Water and the Environment to increase access to water for all patients.

Catherine Kemigabo, District Health Educator, Kabarole, is calling upon partners such as IRC, IDI and others to join hands and upgrade facilities and make them user friendly.

Finally, Martin Watsisi, IRC WASH Expert in Kabarole, says special attention needs to be given to WASH in healthcare facilities. It is not business as usual.

Bwanika Health Centre II gets much needed sanitation facility

October 8th 2020 at 09:31

Thanks to IRC Uganda'sΒ cost-saving initiative Bwanika Health Centre II in Kabarole District now has a sanitation facility.

β€œWe normally tell the patients to first ease themselves before they come here because there is nothing for them to use at the health centre. For us [health workers] we use the facilities at the nearby parish” – Kabasinguzi, nurse in charge, Bwanika HCII.Β Β 

This has been the absurd state of Bwanika Health Centre II (HCII) in Kicwamba Sub-County, Kabarole in Western Uganda, for a couple of years since its establishment. Only until last month, the healthcare centre did not have a sanitation facility for patients and clients. A health centre II in Uganda is the immediate healthcare access facility in the community serving the parish population on an out-patients basis.

Assessment report on healthcare facilities

Bwanika HCII was one of 40 government facilities reached in the 2018 assessment of WASH in Healthcare Facilities in Kabarole District, a collaborative initiative between the Kabarole District Local Government, IRC and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and with funding support from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. The assessment report released in 2019 revealed varied deficiencies in the access and quality of water, sanitation, hygiene and environmental cleanliness, according to the Joint Monitoring Report indicators of WASH basic services for a healthcare facility.

Bwanika HCII was found to be in a particularly dire situation, with no sanitation facility at all on the premises for staff and patients.

Kabarole Hand Pump Mechanics and Sanitation Association installs sanitation facility

Working with the district leadership, IRC Uganda contracted the Kabarole Hand Pump Mechanics and Sanitation Association (KAHASA) to construct a sanitation facility with all required WASH elements for Bwanika HCII.Β  The process was supervised from the onset up to completion by the district technical officers as well as community leaders, including the Senior Health Inspector, Senior Engineer, the nurse in charge of Bwanika Health Centre, and the Chairperson Health Unit Management Committee.

Bwanika HCII is located in Bwanika parish, Kicwamba sub-county, a rocky area on the slopes of the Rwenzori mountains in Kabarole. The construction could therefore not commence before deep excavation through 6 feet of rocky layers to achieve the desired depth of 14 feet. KAHASA followed the professional processes and technical guidance with precision from the excavation until the completion of the four-stance, emptiable ventilated improved pit latrine.Β 

The new latrine at Bwaninka Health Centre

New latrine at Bwanika Health Centre II

The latrine facility has two stances dedicated to females and separated by a concrete wall from the other two for male patients. All stances are fitted with lockable metal doors and give private access to each gender from either side.

The walls have been made smooth with cement and vinyl paint, and the pits fitted with SATO pans, making the facility easier cleanable with water. A handwashing station is fitted near the latrine and connected with gutters to harvest rainwater for washing hands and cleaning the facility. A soak-pit for the urinal and inspection chamber/manhole with cover have been installed.Β 

Budgeting for WASH in healthcare facilities

On 18th September 2020, IRC Uganda officially handed over the new VIP facility at Bwanika Health Centre to the district. Officiating at the commissioning of the facility, the District Chairman Hon. Richard Rwabuhinga appreciated IRC for partnering with the district in ensuring quality and adequate WASH services in the healthcare facilities.Β 

Kabarole district chairperson the Hon. Richard Rwabuhinga cuts the tape to officially open the first sanitation facility at Bwanika Health Centre II

Kabarole District Chairman Hon. Richard Rwabuhinga cuts the tape to officially open the first sanitation facility at Bwanika Health Centre II

He particularly applauded IRC’s ingenuity in the cost-saving initiative that delivered a sanitation facility with better quality standards than have been achieved before with double the budget, as well as supporting community businesses through trusting the Hand Pump Mechanics Association with the job.

"This four-stance modern latrine in such a rocky location cost only 25 million shillings yet a five-stance VIP constructed at Karago on soft ground cost 60 million! Thank you, IRC and KAHASA for using little resources to do a wonderful job," remarked Hon. Rwabuhinga.Β 

Martin Watsisi, Regional WASH Advisor and project lead of the WASH in healthcare facilities initiative at IRC Uganda appreciated the district political and technical arms for embracing collaboration to improve WASH in healthcare facilities and owning the process from the onset.

β€œWe commend the Kabarole District Executive and political leadership at the various levels for cultivating a conducive environment to ensure improvement of WASH services and therefore creating far-reaching impact in quality of life of the people through prevention and control of Healthcare Acquired Infections, and leaving no one behind,” said Watsisi.Β Β β€œThis is a great step forward in achieving the objectives of the Kabarole District WASH master plan 2018-2030.Β Β Much more can be achieved if deliberate planning and budgeting for WASH in healthcare facilities is considered,”  he added.Β 

IRC Uganda has this year with support from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation supported Kabarole District to respond to the gaps identified by the assessment, through renovation of 12 sanitation facilities, improving hand hygiene through awareness and manufacturing of hand sanitizer, and provision of safe drinking water stations to 30 healthcare facilities. Construction of a sanitation facility from scratch was only done for Bwanika Health Centre II, at a cost of 25,924,600 Ugandan shillings (7,000 USD).

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