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Staff shortage forces watchmen to do part-time medical work

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By  PATRICK OKABA

Posted  Friday, January 18   2013 at  07:07

In Summary

Health state. Operating with only 10 workers, Parombo Health Centre III in Nebbi District has devised desperate means, although this is, insfact, keeping patients away.

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It Parombo Health Centre III in Nebbi District, however, the case is different - a watchman can actually dispense drugs and treat patients.
Could this be a case of shortage of staff?

Communities accessing the facility have reported their frustration to the Office of the Resident District Commissioner, alleging incompetence of health workers, whom they say leave much of their work to the watchmen.
Some of the delegated responsibilities include monitoring drips and distribution of drugs.

Ms Alice Ozunga, a resident, says this has resulted in the loss of lives, mainly of children, and has seen many people shun the health centre and opt to take their patients to Angal Hospital, a private facility. But, this comes with costs.

Some of the residents have to sell their belongings to raise money for transport from Parombo to Angal, which costs about Shs7,000.

The nursing officer in-charge of Parombo Health Centre III, Ms Joyce Debo, however, says she only uses the watchmen when health workers are absent.
“The watchman fills the staffing gap, especially when some of the workers are on leave,” she says.

Health centres in rural areas have been battling with staff and drug shortage, despite the government stating that they had provided services to the rural poor.

The deputy RDC, Hajjat Namagogwe, warned health workers to closely monitor patients since they are paid by the government.

She added that the watchmen are only meant to keep the security and property of the health centre but not to work as medical officers.

“Although the watchman works under close supervision, professionally he is not allowed to administer drugs to patients because he has little knowledge about drugs,” she said.

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