Tuesday March 18 2014

Improve public health facilities

By Editorial

Reports from Nakapiripirit District indicate that pregnant mothers are shunning Nabilatuk Health Centre IV due to lack of privacy as they share a ward with both males and children.
The expectant mothers have, therefore, resorted to seeking attention from Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) in their localities.

Whereas no mother has reportedly died at the hands of TBAs, privacy is a very important right for patients – both in the maternity and other wards. Compared to other problems at our health centres countrywide, the government should intervene and solve the privacy issue once and for all.
Although Nabilatuk Health Centre IV serves more than 20,000 people, the residents have even lost the little hope they had given that the only ambulance they had broke down three years ago and has never been repaired.

This means in case of any complication while in the hands of TBAs, the pregnant mothers will be left at the mercy of these non-specialised individuals as there is no ambulance to transport them to a better health facility.

Sarah Nangiro, a mother, was quoted as saying: “There is no way an expectant mother can feel free even to change her clothes while in the maternity ward because male patients are also sheltered in the same ward.”

As a result, and as confirmed by the centre authorities, few pregnant mothers are now visiting the facility. The authorities also said though the government was aware of the situation, no action has been taken.

However, a group of anti-corruption activists wanted the facility closed because of high absenteeism by the medical workers. Key learning point here is that the situation at Nabilatuk is no different from what is happening in other public health facilities across the country. In some cases, some patients leave health centres after acquiring more serious diseases from other patients because of sharing wards or in worst-case scenarios, sharing beds.

Government should look into this matter with the urgency it deserves to end a situation where patients abandon health facilities over very avoidable circumstances.