The Saturday Monitor of January 4 reported that 40 per cent of newly-recruited health staff abscond from duty in Kasese District despite the huge sums of money spent to facilitate them. The district secretary for social services, Ms Peluce Kabagenyi, told a council sitting that the workers either absconded or abandoned duty leaving the sick to languish in various health centres around the district with no one to attend to them.
This situation begs the very obvious question; why do these workers abscond or completely abandon their profession which they painstakingly studied and spent large amounts of money in tuition fees to qualify for? Could it be that the working conditions are unbearable? That the health facilities do not enable them to carry out their duties efficiently or that they are poorly remunerated and, therefore, not motivated to work?
There have been numerous reports of the poor state of health facilities all over the country with health workers struggling to make ends meet in order to save lives. Could these absentees have finally thrown in the towel and moved on to greener pastures?
In the Saturday Monitor story, it is reported that the district councillors demand for government explanation as to why such workers have not been punished. However, punishing the workers without finding out the root cause of such behaviour is a waste of time. The councillors should find out what the problem is before diagnosing punishment!
However, whatever their reason to abscond from work might be, the workers in question should know better than to leave innocent civilians to suffer the brunt. Walking away from work without notice is unprofessional and does not help the situation. Like many others have done, they should have made their grievances known to the concerned authority and then if the situation was not improved, they resign honourably. The district authorities should also have been able to deal with the problem before it got to a 40 per cent magnitude.
Unless these are ‘ghost’ workers, they should be summoned, asked to explain themselves and the district council find a way to resolve the situation. Punishment could in this case be the best solution to absconding workers.