I wish to applaud the government of Uganda which introduced the patriotism sessions to CAOs and other public servants. I would therefore request that the same sessions be taken to health workers as well.
I’ve seen the government doing all its best to ensure the medicines reach people through different systems like PUSH and infrastructures are attended to. They have recruited staff so far at least each health center now has a qualified staff.
But where is the problem? In my work as a health researcher, I have discovered that the biggest challenge is the very indifferent attitude of health workers who dont care whether they perform their duties or not. In as much as the central government has tried to put up the health centers and send some drugs(at least the essential ones). This calls for equipping the health centers with the staff who have the heart of service and knowing what to do.
It is now common knowledge that most of the health workers, mainly the ones in hard to reach areas work as ‘consultants’ (once a week or twice a month). They have left health centers to be run by Askaris and VHTs who have no skills in drug dispensing, let alone treating patients. While others try to work they arrive at 11:00 and leave by 2:00pm.
Some, when posted to such hard to reach areas, maternity leave or study leave. Faced with no or limited services at health centers, poor peasants end up congesting referral hospitals to get services which they would rather have gotten at health centres.
I have been told of a case at Isunga Health centre in Kibaale district where a mother died while giving birth when the health workers pretended to be busy. And this is the case in most districts. It beats my understanding to see a fellow human being losing her life giving birth in this era when the government is busy paying a health worker to save lives
The Health centres are given PHC funds but most in-charge cannot even clean the compound-buy the funds are fully accounted for every month. In my line of work I have also witnessed so many unutilised health centres. For instance Kabyuma Health Centre in Mubende district has very well constructed buildings but they are used to accommodate goats.
When it comes to the supervision the Health Unit Management Committees(HUMIC) claim they are not facilitated yet they took up the assignments well knowing that they are meant to be volunteers. This leaves the incharges as their own bosses and nobody says anything against them, even when they run down the centers.
While I agree with the issues the workers put across like low pay,-but then didn’t they apply for those jobs well knowing the paycheck? And why not resign and let others take it up if they cant be patient to have issues sorted out.
We are here to save our countrymen, what if the army, police and people in forces behaved the same, what would be the situation? There is no amount of money which is enough to change someone’s attitude. I know some people joined the profession not as a call but as a solution to get what to do but I feel we need to save lives.
I don’t think all are contented with the pay but they have continued to serve while pressing for better pay. This can also be done by the health staff.
Im requesting those concerned for patriotism they should begin with the health workers maybe it can address issues rotating on the attitude of the staff and improving service delivery.
The writer is a health researcher –email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are entirely the authors, and not necessarily those of KRC