Pader health workers strike over protective gear

Dozens of out-patients were left stranded inside Pader Health Centre IV after health workers locked them inside the compound of the hospital. PHOTO BY TOBBIAS JOLLY OWINY

PADER- Health workers at Pajule Health Centre IV in Pader District have locked patients out of the hospital and laid down their tools to protest the lack of personal protective gear.

The health centre is Pader’s biggest medical facility that serves the biggest number of patients as far as basic medical and HIV/AIDS services are concerned.

Protective gear include clothing, masks, gloves, or other gear that protects a person from exposure to noxious chemicals or transmissible diseases.

Daily Monitor established that a consignment of hand gloves and face masks was last delivered at the facility in February and health workers here; have been working without basic protective items like hand gloves.

When COVID-19 broke out in March, no critical items like face masks for health workers were sent to the hospital.
“For two months, we have been getting excess masks and gloves from other smaller health facilities in the district to help us work but that is not sustainable since every facility is facing a scarcity,” a health worker at the facility who requested for anonymity, to speak freely, said on Monday. “Time came when we conditioned patients to buy masks for us to work on them but the price has spiked from Shs500 a pair to Shs3,000.”

Mr Tito Brilliant Okello, the Pajule Sub-county chairman told Daily Monitor that attempts to intervene and convince the health workers to resume work were futile.

“Patients were not accessing the facility when the [health workers] closed it. Those who are admitted and out-patients who were already inside were left stranded,” Mr Okello said.

Dr Celestino Layoo, the Pader District health officer confirmed the protest saying that services in the out-patients unit were greatly affected.

“By yesterday, there was no single glove or face masks for them to use, even the few we borrowed for them from other health facilities were used up and this puts lives of these health workers at risk during this COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr Layoo said.

According to him, the shortage resulted from delays by National Medical Stores to deliver supplies to the facility.
According to him, NMS was notified and a consignment of the required materials was dispatched to the district.
“We have asked them to resume work and use the little items we have given them before a consignment from NMS arrives,” he said.
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