State House officials storm Bugisu after Monitor story

Patients at Bupoto Health Centre III, one of the health centres in Namisindwa District, where health workers rarely work at night, weekends and on public holidays. PHOTO | YAHUDU KITUNZI 

What you need to know:

  • The investigation unearthed the pain expectant mothers go through when they check into some of the health facilities at night and they are assisted by the watchmen to deliver.

The State House Health Monitoring officials have camped in Namisindwa District to investigate, among others, allegations of absenteeism of health workers at various health centres.

This comes a week after the Monitor story indicated that watchmen were operating health centres, especially in the rural districts of Bugisu sub-region,  because of absenteeism.

The investigation unearthed the pain expectant mothers go through when they check into some of the health facilities at night and they are assisted by the watchmen to deliver.

The story also indicated that health workers rarely work on weekends and on public holidays in some of the health centres.

For instance, around 1pm on Good Friday patients were stranded with no health worker to attend to them at Bupoto Health Centre III. The facility is about 300 metres from the district headquarters.

The head of State House Health Monitoring Unit, Dr Warren Namara, confirmed at the weekend that some officials from the unit are in Namisindwa. But he declined to divulge details.

However, the Resident District Commissioner (RDC) of Namisindwa, Hajj Imran Muluga, told the Monitor on Saturday that State House officials are in the district following the publication’s story.

 “The State House team is moving around the facilities to see whether the health centres are working. We are not moving with them. They are doing their job,” Hajji Muluga said.

Mr Emma Bwayo, the Namisindwa District youth councillor, said the State House officials’ visit is timely.

“The unit shouldn’t wait for news before embarking on their mandated routine visits. I hope they (State House Health Monitioring Unit) keep visiting health facilities,” Mr Bwayo said.

He also said there is a need to strengthen the supervision of health centres in the district in order to improve service delivery.

Ms Juliet Kakai, a retired teacher, commended the Monitor for unearthing the rot in the health centres, saying it has been a big challenge.

“It’s difficult to get treatment at night and on weekends in our health facilities. Something should be done to save our lives,” Ms Kakai said.

However, the in-charge at Bupoto Health Centre III, Ms Suzan Mukimba, dismissed allegations of absenteeism, saying the facility is understaffed.

 “We work 24 hours and we have one midwife who sleeps around the facility to handle emergencies,” Ms Mukimba said, adding that Health Centre IIIs don’t admit patients but they refer them to Health Centre IVs.

The Namisindwa deputy RDC, Ms Juliet Solome Namara, said: “Some health workers have conditioned the patients that there is no working after lunch and on weekends. This is a practice that must be stopped because health workers are well paid to work as expected.”

Recently, Ms Namara, with security officers, made an impromptu visit from 11pm-2am to some health centre IIIs, including Bupoto, Bubutu, Bumbo and Bumwoni and they did not find any staff.

The Namisindwa District Health officer, Dr Steven Masai Wasu, said some health workers tend to run away because they don’t have accommodation at the facilities.

It’s a mistake to send away the patients. Such health workers need to be punished,” Dr Masai said.

However, Mr Abdullah Magambo, the deputy speaker for Mbale City,  said district health officers are not doing enough.

“Health workers who absent themselves from duty, should be punished to act as an example to others, Mr Magambo said.