Ward-round campaign seeks to improve Uganda’s hospitals
Posted Monday, October 14 2013 at 00:00
Ordinarily, you would not find politicians in hospitals doing what is medically known as ward rounds. But under a new campaign, Members of Parliament under the Network for African Women Ministers and Parliamentarians Uganda chapter (NAWMP), health workers and managers are partnering to undertake ward rounds in hospitals and other health units across the country. The campaign which will last for one month is aimed at improving care for patients who use the facilities.
The campaign is putting more emphasis on combating HIV/Aids, malaria, blood safety, non communicable diseases, improving laboratory and maternal health services.
The campaign also aims to instill hope in the newly recruited health workers, and to revive public confidence in the public health sector.
Sula Ikoba, the administrator of the Central Public Health Laboratories, at the ministry of Health described it as a hand-on approach to delivering health services.
“What we are discouraging is artificial supervision of the health services in the country. We want to go and supervise and work together with the health workers so as to boost their morale. We are also working closely with the MPs and other national leaders to give them a feel of what health workers go through while at duty. They are bulldozed and not paid well. We want MPs to advocate for better pay for the health workers and the ministry staff to appreciate what they do and not the usual supervision of checklist,” says Ikoba.
Sylvia Namabidde, the NAWMP chairperson notes that the campaign will provide the legislators with the opportunity to tour health facilities across the country, and report back to parliament from an informed point of view.
Show of support
“We want to show solidarity with the health workers and understand better the conditions that they are going through. We also want to appreciate the kind of work that the health workers render to this country so that we can push for more funding from an informed point of view. Some medical officials have accepted to work in the circumstance and we shall advocate for improvement in their remuneration as a matter of urgency,” remarks Namabidde.
The country’s health sector remains significantly underfunded, with less than 9 per cent of total government budget being spent on the health sector. This is far below the recommended 15 per cent as part of the Abuja declaration of 2001.
Apart from doctors whose salaries were increased to Shs2.5m after the intervention of Parliament, other health workers remain poorly facilitated, situation that has contributed to the brain drain in the country.
As a result, health experts also worry that Uganda will not meet its international obligation of reducing its maternal and child deaths by two-thirds by 2015.
The legislators who started their ward round tour at Mulago hospital said the few of doctors and midwives cannot efficiently manage the high numbers of patients who turn up at the hospital.
“All the failed cases across the country end up being referred to Mulago hospital and this is still a big challenge for the staff. Mothers delay to come to the hospital and their foetus rapture, resulting in bleeding, which is one of the leading causes of maternal deaths. Having identified such a problem, we are going mobilise Ugandans to donate blood,” said Namabidde.
Health minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, who is leading the clinical team of the campaign, said improving work conditions for health workers is a top priority of government.
“We are here to see the bad and good and take action. It is our duty to handle whichever situation and the leadership shall do something about it. There are not enough midwives and we are aware of that. But we intend to recruit 400 health workers to reinforce Mulago,”he said.
“Government is already taking action and we are also constructing a women hospital at Mulago to address maternal and obstetric complications. We are also addressing the decongestion in Mulago by constructing referral hospitals in Kawempe, Makindye and Nakawa. Beginning January next year, Mulago hospital is going to be remodeled,”he added.