Hopes High as IOM Renovates Health Centre in Uganda’s Amuru District

Amuru, Uganda - The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has started rehabilitation works at Bibia health centre III in Uganda to support the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The health centre, located in the northern district of Amuru, is the designated referral facility for Elegu Point of Entry (PoE), at the border with South Sudan, one of Uganda’s key trading partners. Elegu is a particularly busy border post and a traders’ and truckers’ hub, hence the need for an accessible and functional referral facility as part of the COVID-19 response.

The rehabilitation involves restructuring of the out-patient department, including a laboratory and a store; renovation of a two-unit staff block and construction of a new one; construction of a larger in-patient ward; improving the maternity ward; construction of six latrine blocks; and construction of an incinerator, among others.

The hospital’s in-patient ward was too small, with steel windows and inadequate lighting. The new block will have separate rooms for women, men and children, with eight well-spaced beds.

“On average, we have about 550 patients a month, but it is because of the cramped state of the facility that the numbers declined. Now we will have a chance to put patients in the ward and observe them closely. I am sure the new and renovated structures will attract more people and push patient numbers up again,” said Milton Okello, the Senior Clinical Officer in charge of the health centre.

The nearest higher-level health facility is Atiak health centre IV, 28 kilometres away. Okello said that because of challenges at his facility, some patients have had to endure the distance to Atiak.

According to Sauda Jurua, a mother of four who represents Bibia Parish in Elegu Town Council, the community is happy because the health centre has been “too small” for the patients. Ms. Jurua recalled receiving antenatal care and delivering her youngest child at the health centre four years ago, and requesting to be discharged immediately.

“We are very happy that the staff, too, are getting more space because there was time when they were sharing a unit,” she said.

Another community member, Dominic Bilal, said local leaders were closely following the renovation works and looked forward to their completion. He said the improved and expanded staff quarters would enable more health workers to be present at the compound in case of emergencies.

Victoria Kajja, IOM’s National Migration Health Promotion Coordinator in Uganda, says the works at Bibia are expected to be completed within five months. She explains that under the EU-IGAD COVID-19 Response programme, Amuru district also received support to test health workers and frontline responders, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and Infection, Prevention and Control (IPC) measures. Referral processes from the Points of Entry are supported with an ambulance based at Elegu border post.

About the EU-IGAD COVID-19 Response Programme

This initiative comes as part of the EU-IGAD COVID-19 Response programme, which is mitigating the health and socioeconomic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) region, in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda. Project activities include supporting the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 response, mitigating the pandemic’s effects, and laying the foundation for long-term recovery.

Funded by the European Union, the regional programme is managed by UNOPS and implemented by IGAD, IOM, UNICEF, TradeMark East Africa (TMEA), and the German International Cooperation Agency (GiZ).

While complementing efforts of other programme partners, IOM Uganda has focused on: strengthening the healthcare system’s capacity to respond to COVID-19 and ensure continuity of essential services, including vaccination of frontline responders, health facility renovation and provision of additional essential supplies; providing services for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in selected sites; integrating measures against Gender-Based violence (GBV) in the COVID-19 response; and carrying out awareness raising and community engagement on COVID-19.

For more information or media enquiries, please contact IOM Uganda Public Information Officer, Richard M Kavuma at | Tel: +256 312 263 210 | +256 772 709 917