Staff shortage affecting Hoima hospital

Friday June 21 2013

Mothers wait for medical officers outside Hoima hospita

Women wait for medical officers outside Hoima hospital. Many patients say it is increasingly becoming hard to see a doctor due to the huge number of patients. The medical superintendent says the hospital is constrained by manpower. PHOTO BY FRANCIS MUGERWA  

By Francis Mugerwa

Hoima- Mr Moses Abitegeka, 27, sits shivering on the verandah at Hoima Regional Referral hospital.

He says he walked from Buhanika Sub-county to the hospital.
“I have walked about 5km to this hospital in anticipation of timely treatment. I have spent an hour, yet I haven’t seen a doctor,” Mr Abitegeka says.

Like Mr Abitegeka, accessing timely healthcare is a nightmare for many patients at the hospital.

As a regional hospital, it serves Hoima, Kibaale, Buliisa, Kiryandongo and Masindi districts as a referral unit.
Its catchment area is about three million people.

According to the hospital’s senior officer, Ms Florence Acheng, the common illnesses the hospital registers include malaria, pneumonia, Tuberculosis, HIV/Aids, cancer, diarrhoea and mental illness.
The hospital receives between 400 and 800 patients every day.
The medical superintendent, Dr Francis Mulwanyi, says the hospital is constrained by manpower yet challenged by an overwhelming number of patients daily.

Statistics
Data from the hospital’s human resource records show that of the required 14 consultants, there are only four.
Out of the 12 required doctors with a special grade, the hospital has only one.

The facility requires 10 medical officers, but it currently has only four.

The hospital has seven out of the required 15 senior nursing officers, and 16 out of the 25 required nursing officers. Out of the required 40 enrolled nurses, the hospital has only 32.

“The workload keeps increasing but the staff is inadequate,” the hospitals administrator, Mr Geoffrey Mawa, says.

Hosptial officials explain that the high patient turn up is worsened by immigrants and refugees from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, and the fact that the hospital handles illnesses that would ordinarily be done by district hospitals.

But challenges persist. The hospital authorities recently reported a shortage of the required manpower and funds which are worsened by erratic power supply and an old water and sewage system which at times leave the facility without running water.

It also has only one functional ambulance which authorities said requires fuel worth between Shs250,000 to Shs300,000 to refer one patient to Mulago National Referral Hospital.

Petition
Hoima District chairman George Bagonza recently petitioned the central government to address the numerous challenges the district is facing in delivering health care to its residents.

The petition to the State Minister for Primary Healthcare, Ms Sarah Opendi, who had visited the district recently, noted the inadequacy of manpower in the health sector yet medical workers are overwhelmed by the patients seeking medication.

Besides the shortage of health workers, Mr Bagonza said there was also lack of adequate space to accommodate the patients seeking specialised services.

The hospital has, however, reported a general improvement in the delivery of drugs and other medical supplies by the National Medical Stores, although they noted that in some instances, the supplies are low or more than required.

‘Massive recruitment’
Ms Opendi noted that the government was addressing most of the challenges the health sector faces countrywide, including a massive recruitment of health workers, especially in hard-to-reach areas, and remunerating them well.

“There are ongoing and upcoming programmes of expanding and rehabilitating health facilities in the country,” Ms Opendi said.
She urged local leaders and development partners to compliment government efforts of improving healthcare services.

History of Hoima Regional Referral Hospital

The hospital started as a district health facility in the early 1930s, and it was upgraded to a regional referral hospital in 1994.
However, the structures have not been expanding to match the growing number of patients it serves. Its bed capacity is 280.

Its sources of funding include the government and the capital development funds.

To address some of its challenges, the hospital has finalised the construction of a four-storeyed apartment using capital development funding which will accommodate at about 30 families of hospital staff.

However, the hospital has a total of 280 staff, most of who are in dire need of accommodation.

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has reportedly pledged to support the facility to build a new administration block, an outpatient department, and maternity and acute care units.
A specialised mental unit for the hospital has been built.

The hospital has also developed a 30-year master plan aimed at improving its structures, facilities and the quality of health services being offered at the hospital.

The hospital started as a district health facility in the early 1930s, and it was upgraded to a regional referral hospital in 1994.
However, the structures have not been expanding to match the growing number of patients it serves. Its bed capacity is 280.
Its sources of funding include the government and the capital development funds.
To address some of its challenges, the hospital has finalised the construction of a four-storeyed apartment using capital development funding which will accommodate at about 30 families of hospital staff.
However, the hospital has a total of 280 staff, most of who are in dire need of accommodation.
Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has reportedly pledged to support the facility to build a new administration block, an outpatient department, and maternity and acute care units.
A specialised mental unit for the hospital has been built.
The hospital has also developed a 30-year master plan aimed at improving its structures, facilities and the quality of health services being offered at the hospital.

KEY ISSUES

Manpower: Hoima Regional Referral Hospital medical superintendent says they are constrained by manpower yet challenged by an overwhelming number of patients daily.
Space: Hospital officials say there is not enough space in health facility to accommodate the patients seeking specialised services. Its bed capacity is 280.
Ambulance: The hospital has only one functional ambulance which authorities say is difficult to maintain. They say it requires fuel worth between Shs250,000 to Shs300,000 to refer just one patient to the National Referral Hospital at Mulago.
Accommodation: Despite the construction of a four-storeyed apartment that will accommodate at about 30 families of hospital staff, most of the 280 staff are said to be in dire need of accommodation.

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