Mbale Regional Referral hospital is turning away patients in need of laboratory tests due to lack of surgical gloves. A medical officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, says they have not had surgical gloves for the last two months.
The medic blames the shortage of the gloves on the delayed supply by National Medical Stores (NMS). Currently, patients are asked to provide surgical gloves before they are attended to.
Our reporter visited the hospital on Monday and counted about 16 patients who had been turned away from the laboratory due to lack of gloves.
Only those who provided surgical gloves were attended to. A pair of surgical gloves in drug shops in Mbale town costs about Shs 2,000. One of the staff in the laboratory told this publication that none of patients would be attended too without providing gloves.
Our reporters visited the Pediatric ward and saw medical workers handling patients without gloves. 20-year-old Mariam Kadondia, a student of Mbale secondary schools told this publication that she was shocked when she sought treatment and was asked to provide surgical gloves.
“I am very disappointed. This is a government hospital where I should get free medical services. Now, they are telling me to buy gloves. Me, I’m a student, where can I get money to buy gloves. I’m requesting the hospital authorities to help patients who can’t afford to buy gloves,” she said.
Esther Nambozo, an attendant to a patient in the Acute ward told this publication that she took blood samples to the main laboratory for testing but was turned away due to lack of gloves. According to Nambozo, the medical worker asked her to buy surgical gloves before she could get any help.
The director of Mbale hospital, Stephen Obbo admits the shortage of gloves at the facility. Obbo says they are currently requesting patients to buy gloves since their hands are tied.
“One thing we want to discourage is selling those things within the hospital. You rather tell someone to go and buy (from outside hospital) because if you start telling people to sell (within the hospital), they can abuse the process.
You rather tell them that you don’t have such. If you don’t have something, tell them that you don’t have and shouldn’t hide. You know we must be truthful. When handling blood, health workers need to be protected, they should not handle it with bare hands. Here people have to buy [the gloves]. I know it is painful but, well until the situation improves that is what we have. But we also need to teach our health workers to be less wasteful,” said Obbo.