ARUA. Maracha district has received two brand new Ambulances to facilitate the health department after ten years of relying on only an Ambulance donated by a nongovernmental organization (NGO).
The two Ambulances bought by Jennifer Driwaru, the Maracha district Woman Member of Parliament (MP) were officially handed over to the district authority amidst jubilation at the district headquarters on Saturday.
The function started with prayers led by Monsignor Kasto Adeti, the Vicar General of Arua Catholic Diocese who later blessed the Ambulances before they were handed over to the district officials.
While receiving the Ambulances, Dr. Paul Onzubo, the Maracha district health officer noted that they have been using a single Ambulance that traverses the entire district for the last ten years.
He said from the time the district was created in 2011, they haven’t received any Ambulance from the government apart from the one donated by Enable, a Belgian Development Agency in 2012.
“You know that a vehicle by the standards of Uganda is supposed to be useful for five years and from 2012, we are almost reaching 10 years but we are still using that same Ambulance. Many times, three to four health facilities call at the same time and that means the other child must wait to die or the other mother must wait to die. It has been that bad!” Dr. Onzubo explained.
“Of course sometimes, the Ambulance is available but we might have no fuel, these are some of the critical issues. My office receives up to about shs9m to shs11m per quarter (a period of three months) and I must use this money for buying fuel for the Ambulance, for TB/Leprosy activities, for traveling, for maintenance of other means of transport, for support supervision, for monitoring and evaluation, so all this is within that small budget,” Onzubo stressed.
He observed that now the problem of the number of Ambulances has been solved, adding that they are very grateful to the Woman MP.
“The problem of the number of Ambulances has been solved but there is still one problem of maintenance if our budget still remains fixed. There are many alternatives that are available and the most sustainable one is for the government to increase the recurrent non-wage funds to the district health office, part of which we can allocate to fuel these Ambulances,” Onzubo advised.
According to Onzubo, they lost four women during birth at different government facilities in the last financial year while between eight and nine children die for every 1,000 that are born alive in Maracha district.
He said all the deaths are associated with the failure of their Ambulance and emergence systems to reach the mothers very quickly.
Mr Stephen Obitre, the Maracha district chairperson commended Driwaru for thinking about the people of Maracha. He said the Ambulances she has donated will help in saving the lives of mothers and babies in the district.
Obitre, however, called upon the government to consider elevating Maracha Health Centre IV to a Hospital status, saying 10 years down the road, the district still has no Hospital which has denied them their right to better health services.
In her remarks, Driwaru said she used the money that was given to her to buy a car to instead buy the two Ambulances given the dire need for Ambulance services in the district.
“I can’t withdraw these Ambulances no matter the circumstance. I have offered them from deep down my heart because I am not a politician, I am a mere servant of the people. It is politicians who can give and take back after failing but that is not me,” Driwaru remarked.
She thanked the district administration for being very positive in receiving the Ambulances and asked them to ensure that the vehicles are not grounded when people are suffering down there.
Driwaru also rallied the people of Maracha living outside the district to think back and start developing their home district.
Ms Rose Buleru, a mother of 8 and a resident of Yiba Village, Robu Parish in Oleba Sub-County equally thanked Driwaru for donating the two Ambulances. She said as mothers in Yiba Village, it has been very difficult for them to access Oleba Health Centre III during labor due to lack of transport.
Buleru is now hopeful that with the coming of the Ambulances, women in her village will find it easy to access health facilities during labor and other health complications.