There is a need to increase access to PPE in resource-poor areas such as Refugee Settlements …. particularly to resource-poor communities.
Due to the uncontrolled movements of people across the Uganda and Tanzania border, Rubondo Health Centre II in Nakivale Refugee Settlement is now located in an area that is threatened by a potential outbreak of covid-19. The situation has worsened due to the unavailable access to PPE and other hygiene supplies to protect vulnerable populations such as refugees from COVID-19.
Hedwig works as a midwife with Rubondo Health Centre II situated at the Uganda Tanzania Border and serves Nakivale Refugee Settlement. Given that the health centre is close to the border of Tanzania and Uganda, it gets patients from both countries including the refugee’s settlements. With limited COVID-19 testing available for everyone, there is an increasing risk of spreading the virus.
As a health worker, we are in constant fear of contracting the disease as we are expected to continue providing our services amidst this pandemic. By the nature of our job, we are in constant proximity with our patients, and protecting ourselves is becoming increasingly harder due to limited access to PPE.
Consequently, the health workers such as Hedwig have become increasingly vulnerable to COVID-19, and the situation is worsened because they cannot access COVID-19 testing when they need. This is true because COVID-19 tests are unavailable in remote areas of the country such as Nakivale Refugee settlement which is located more than 380 kilometres away from the capital. Therefore health workers in these remote are constantly worried that they will not only catch the disease but are mentally by the mere thought of infecting their family members weighs a lot of our mental health.
The health workers mental state is further affected by the limited knowledge in diagnosing COVID-19, particularly in the absence of proper testing as well as other respiratory diseases having similar symptoms. Therefore, receiving updated information on COVI9-19 and regular training on how to handle patients that might display symptoms attributed to COVID-19 would go a long way in addressing their fears and mental health amidst the pandemic,
We are therefore grateful for our collaboration with Shared Action Africa that helps us access PPE and other hygiene supplies that have enabled us to continue providing the essential health services to the refugee and host communities in Nakivale Refugee Settlement. We are also hopeful that through this partnership, health workers will receive the psychosocial support we need to remain mentally stable and continue to provide quality health care services to our patients.