Wednesday May 21 2014

Health workers under probe over negligence

Health workers attend to a patient at a health facility in Hoima District recently.

Health workers attend to a patient at a health facility in Hoima District recently. A section of health workers in the district are under investigations for alleged negligence of duty. Photo by Francis Mugerwa 

By Francis Mugerwa

HOIMA- A section of health workers in Hoima District are under investigation for allegedly neglecting patients.

The investigation follows a petition to the Hoima chief administrative officer (CAO)) by the Midwestern Regional Anti Corruption Coalition (MIRAC).

The MIRAC Programme Officer, Mr Herbert Monday, on April 21 wrote to the CAO, Mr George Ntulume, requesting for an investigation into Bujalya health centre.

“Our findings reveal that the officer in charge of Bujalya health centre and key cadres abandoned the centre and majority of service providers spend their time away from the facility which has consistently forced the majority of clients (patients) to go minus getting attended to,” Mr Monday said.

The Hoima District Health Inspector, Mr Fredrick Byenume, on Monday said the district authorities received a complaint and investigations had commenced.

He said investigations are also underway on a complaint that an expectant mother was abandoned by health officials and she ended up delivering in Mukabara Health Centre III compound.

“We have so far recorded three statements from the nurses who were on duty on that day but they all deny the accusations labeled against them,” Mr Byenume said.

He asked members of the public who have evidence to furnish it in confidence to the district authorities.

Mr Byenume, who is part of the investigators, said the district health office has also registered challenges faced by health workers in delivering quality services.

He said some health workers have complained of missing salaries for the past two months or receiving half pay of their entitled salaries.

Mr Byenume said some health facilities lack guards, which has reportedly resulted into the loss of medical supplies and equipment to criminals who break into facilities at night.

The officer in charge of Mukabara Health Centre III, Mr Herbert Okonda, said out of the 19 staff required at the facility, it has only six.

“We are understaffed yet we receive at times more than 300 patients per week. We are often overwhelmed,” Mr Okonda told a health dialogue on Friday.

Mr Okonda, who is among the officials that the investigators have questioned, has denied any wrongdoing and defended all health workers at the facility.

In a May 17 letter, Mr Okonda wrote to the Hoima District Health Officer, Dr Joseph Ruyonga, indicating that despite his commitment to work, he lacks accommodation at his designated place of work and has missed his salary in the months of February, March, April, May, June, July, October and November,2013.

“I want to beg you as head of department, for the betterment of Mukabara health centre,” Mr Okonda wrote.

He said accusations of incompetence, negligence and absenteeism labeled against him are false and malicious.

The letter also asked Dr Ruyonga to ensure that Mr Okonda’s salary arrears are paid in full at the end of this month.