Health centre accused of turning away patients over dress code

Wednesday September 23 2020
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Residents interact with the community scorecard team at Opeta Health Centre, Kole District, in July. PHOTO/ BILL OKETCH

By Bill Oketch

Hundreds of patients have reportedly been turned away from Opeta Health Centre III in Aboke Sub-county, Kole District, for being “indecently dressed”.
Members of the community claimed that during the coronavirus lockdown, those with worn out or dirty clothes were not attended to at the government facility.

It was also reported that staff at Opeta Health Centre III would sign the staff arrival book at 8am and at 11am, they would sign out and return to their homes.
The issues were generated by the community scorecard commissioned by the Apac Anti-Corruption Coalition (TAACC), an NGO, in July.

This was after locally trained members of the community called the independent budget monitors (IBMs), identified Opeta Health Centre III as one of the facilities in Kole District having service delivery issues. The ultimate goal was to see that service delivery at the facility is improved, according to Mr Tom Opwonya, TAACC’s executive director. The management of Opeta Health Centre III has acknowledged there were some isolated cases of indiscipline among their staff but that a lot has since changed after the community scorecard tool was commissioned.
Mr Michael Egwang, the officer-in-charge of the health centre, said he met all his team on August 30 and reminded them of their work ethics and time for reporting on duty.

“The issue of demanding Shs5,000 by a midwife from mothers who come to deliver at the health centre has been checked,” he said. This newspaper also established that the Health Unit Management Committee has allocated Shs2.5 million for repairing the water pump at the facility.  However, the community scorecard tool also unearthed some challenges at Ayara Health Centre II in Okwerodot Sub-county and Apala-Barowo Health Centre III in Alito Sub-county, all in Kole District.
At Apala-Barowo Health Centre, it was found out that many mothers would only take children for first and second immunisation and then abscond from the third one. The habit was said to be compromising the health of children.

Also in Okwerodot Sub-county, mothers insisted on delivering in the hands of traditional birth attendants, which is a great risk.
The officer-in-charge, Mr Alex Eyul, said they have come up with innovative “group antenatal” services for mothers who seek services at Apala-Barowo Health Centre III. For instance, those with ages ranging from 16 to 24 years are made to attend antenatal services together to make them open up. In the past, young mothers would feel shy when they attended antenatal care together with those above 25 years. 

The assistant district health officer, Mr Moses Ogwang, said they will make “an objective transfer of health workers because of past experiences.”
If this is done, Mr Ogwang is optimistic that health service delivery will improve in the area. He suggested that the community scorecard should also be administered at district offices.