Panic as Masaka COVID-19 Taskforce Runs out of Fuel

Masaka Regional Referral Hospital COVID-19 Response Task-force has run out of fuel to sustain its surveillance operations.

Three of the 44 cases that tested positive for COVID-19 are from Masaka, and there is a fear that before they were identified, they had mingled with the wider community in the Masaka sub-region.    

Masaka Hospital Director Dr Nathan Onyachi who also coordinates the task force in the nine districts of greater Masaka says that logistical challenges are threatening their operations.

He says that the task force, which is directly charged with coordinating the activates of lower surveillance teams at the districts has run out of fuel, after emptying their reserve in the last two weeks.

He says, the hospital has also exhausted its quarterly fuel budget for Emergency Health Care Services which is facilitated through a partnership with Korea Foundation for International Healthcare (KOFIH).   

The task force, according to Dr Onyachi is in need of at least 200 litres of fuel per day to sustain their operations, which include tracing of suspects who had contact with positive cases, making referrals, transportation of logistics and medical staff among others. 

“We are running out of fuel, we are a bit lucky to have had support from the Korean Foundation for International Healthcare. This fuel is what we have been using to run all the activities of tracing the contacts in the villages and referring them to Mulago [National Referral Hospital] in Kamapala,” Dr Onyachi said.

Following President Museveni’s ban on use of private vehicles, Dr Onyachi said, the hospital is also overwhelmed by calls from people seeking for the emergency services which their ambulance services team can however not respond to at the moment over fuel.  

As they wait on the government to respond to their inquisitions, the hospital administration is now contemplating making public appeals for well-wishers and other corporate bodies to make any contributions. 

According to Peter Ayot, the Masaka district health educator, appeals for vehicles from local private health services providers to support the task force are yet to yield any fruits, which has hampered the district’s efforts.   

What they have so secured is a lone mobile health promotion van from the Marie Stopes clinic in Masaka which they are using to pass out public sensitization messages on prevention of coronavirus.  

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Finance presented before Parliament a supplementary budget request for Shillings 304 billion to mitigate the coronavirus pandemic in the country. Meanwhile, the request was sent to the parliamentary budget committee for scrutiny.   


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