Thursday August 7 2014

‘Absentee heads hurt health units’

Police in Moroto District  check intercepted drugs that

Police in Moroto District check intercepted drugs that were stolen from Moroto hospital on Sunday. PHOTO BY STEVEN ARIONG 

By Agatha Ayebazibwe

Kampala- Poor service delivery at lower health facilities is as a result of lack of supervision and absenteeism of facility heads, a new report indicates.

The Medicines and Health Services Delivery Monitoring Unit 2013 annual report shows lack of leadership in most health facilities has negatively affected functioning of the health units.

Reasons for the absence of facility heads ranged from official duty, including attending workshops or capacity building trainings, while others were undertaking private engagements or absconded from duty without giving any reasons.

“It is hard to operate effectively without leadership or robust management structures in place. The absence of health facility heads and in-charges not only demotivates other workers but also makes the facility lose credibility among its clients and community,” reads the report in part.

The report cites Lewa Health Centre II in Adjumani District, which was found closed during the monitoring exercise without any form of communication from the officer in-charge.

“This puts patients in a precarious position where they are left with no choice for health care and leads to complication of certain health conditions and unnecessary deaths,” Dr Diana Atwine, the director of Medicines and Health Services Delivery Monitoring Unit, said.

During the monitoring exercise, 239 facilities in Koboko, Moyo, Sheema, Buvuma, Kalangala, Kiryandongo, Yumbe, Mityana, Arua, Adjumani, Kibaale, Hoima and Jinja districts were visited without prior notice.

Fifty two per cent of the health centre IIs were found without officers in-charge.

The Minister for Primary Healthcare, Ms Sarah Opendi, however, blamed the problem on lack of functional local government and district teams who are supposed to play supervisory roles.

“The district health officers, together with other local elected leaders at the country and sub-county levels, are expected to supervise and ensure that health workers at this level are working,” Ms Opendi said in an interview.

The minister said the decentralisation of the health structures left the ministry with very little money to do country wide supervision.