Health workers share wards with patients

Wednesday September 06 2017

On duty. A health worker opens a room for patients at Ngomba Health Centre II recently. PHOTO BY PEREZ RUMANZI.

Western Uganda. Many health workers deployed in rural health centres in Ntungamo, Mbarara, Sheema, Kabale, and other districts lack accommodation at their work stations.
A survey done by Daily Monitor indicates that many health workers live outside their duty stations. Many of those who stay at their work stations have to improvise.
In Ntungamo District, only 12 per cent of the health workers are accommodated at their work stations, according to district health officer, Dr Richard Bakamuturaki.
Health workers at Rubaare health centre IV and Rugarama, Kayonza, Ruhaama, Rweikiniro and Kitondo health centre IIIs, sleep in patients’ wards.
Health workers at Rwashamaire, Bwongyera and Kitwe health centres share small rooms.
At Ngoma Health Centre III, health workers have turned a kitchen for a sub-county employee into a house.
Ms Prescidia Tumuhimbise, an enrolled nurse at Rweikiniro Health Centre III, said they sleep in a room formerly used as Anti-Retroviral Therapy clinic. Apart from the officer-in-charge of the health centre, the rest, 14 workers, rent accommodation outside the health centre.
“Lack of accommodation has affected service delivery, causing absenteeism, late reporting to duty, early closure of health cantres and sometimes theft of equipment,” Dr Bakamuturaki said.
The officer-in-charge of Rubaare Health Centre IV, Dr Innocent Twesiime, said for provision of health services to improve, a lot needs to be done about staff welfare.
“Some health workers have been refusing to be transferred to some places due to lack of staff houses,” Dr Twesiime said.
A recent survey on the state of health facilities in Ntungamo District done by the Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS) under Advocacy for Better Health programme, found that welfare of health workers is poor, which translates into poor service delivery.
“For long, we have blamed health workers for not doing their work but it’s high time the stakeholders worked on their accommodation. You can’t expect proper services at a health centre where a worker travels for more than 8km every day. What if there is an emergency…. how can this health worker help?” Mr Edison Baherezibwa, the manager Advocacy for Better Health at URCS, said.
Ntungamo Woman MP Beatrice Rwakimari said health workers’ welfare needs immediate attention.

Sheema Disrict
In Sheema District the situation is not any different.
Dr Gelvase Twine, the officer in-charge of Shuuku Health Centre IV , shares a house with four other health workers, including a female midwife, who sleeps in the garage.
Other health workers sleep in the Outpatient Department room and fold their beddings in the morning before operations begin.
The Sheema District health officer, Dr Johnson Kabwaisho, said they have advised health workers across the district to share the available housing facilities.
Kabale District chairperson, Mr Patrick Besigye Keihwa, said government should reinstate Primary Health Care (PHC) funds it withdrew three years ago and the money be used in the construction of staff houses, wards, placenta pits and latrines.
Dr Cranmer Mugisha, the officer-in-charge of Bwizibwera Health Centre IV, said 18 out of the 34 workers at the facility rent at the nearby town.

Reported by Perez Rumanzi, Felix Ainebyoona, Alfred Tumushabe, Robert Muhereza & Fred Anyine.