Lira – This is health watch! Structurally, in the health sector or a health center setting, an In-charge of a facility is akin to a head teacher whose core mandate is to manage both the school and the teachers under him/her for effective service delivery.
But this is the exact opposite of the situation in most of the health centers in Lira district where some In-charges have openly told district officials that they are not in position to supervise and have a grip on some female staff posted to their facilities because they are the wives and husbands of some officials at Lira district.
This vividly emerged on Wednesday (last week) at Lira district council hall as Lira district local government engaged in-charges and sub-county chiefs in a bid to underscore the factors contributing to absenteeism from work, and why most of the health workers are not residing within their work places yet all the health workers have been provided with decent accommodation.
First, it was the chair of the meeting George Okello Ayo, the Lira LC5 vice chairperson who also doubles as the health “minister at the district”.
Mr. Ayo expressed bitterness over the deteriorating state of affairs at most of the health centers and implored all the in-charges to candidly express all they feel could be impediments to their administration.
Soon, Gino Okot, the In-charge of Ogur health center IV took to the podium and poured his heart out.
It should be recalled that a latest monitoring by GLOFORD Uganda and the district officials exposed the rot in Ogur where most houses are not occupied but used as soyabean’s stores.
“I am sorry for saying this,” Gino started. He added: “But we are in the 21st Century, how do you expect a medic to stay in such houses, only two rooms with a kitchen overlooking a pit latrine, coupled with lack of power and amenities such as DSTV?.”
To add salt to an injury, Gino said some factors were beyond them much as they have tried to enforce that all health workers reside within the facility.
Tasked by the Council Speaker, George Rashid Opio to explain what he meant, Gino said the problem is with the district officials.
“I am telling you sometimes it is beyond us because these are wives of big men at the district who appears untouchable, so we are helpless,” he reveals.
This was immediately corroborated by a statement from Geoffrey Ocen, the In-charge of Bar-Apwoo health center III in Lira sub-couty.
“I would like to substantiate what my colleague just mentioned; it is true that we have some nurses and mid views who are wives of the so called “big fish” in the district and once you try to reprimand them you find yourself in problems,” Ocen asserted.
He, however, challenged the district to plan for capital development which should cover constructions of inpatient wards for admission to be effected.
“Sometimes we would want to be at the facility but since you have no patient to monitor, why must I stay around. So, construct for us inpatient wards and we would feel motivated to stay around the health facility since we even have to work on patients at night,” he told the meeting.
However, James Omara Elem, a youth councilor and a member of the health committee, said it would not be prudent to leave the issues without probing further.
Mr. Omara opted for all the In-charges to disclose to the district the number of health workers who are spouses to health officials and are a headache to their administration.
But unfortunately, apart from Innocent Akaki, the In-charge of Agali health center III who said he has not registered any case of misconduct, all the In-charges remained tightlipped while others told TND News at the “corridor of power” that they would prefer a separate meeting to iron out the issues.
However, an independent investigation by this contemporary online newspaper reveals that there could be up to eight personnel who are driving female and male In-charges nuts and they are spread across health centers in the district.
Quite a big numbers are wives of officials in the health department.
Geoffrey Ariko, is the district biostatistician, he says his office is charged with the responsibility of carrying out analysis on the performance of health workers.
And according to his data, there are close to eight staff who have a chronic record of absenteeism and that, it shall be presented to the Rewards and Sanctions Committee for displinary action.
Judith Ateng, the chairperson of the health committee blames the anomaly on the weakness in the district health department and laxity in the office of the district health officer in particular.
Ms. Ateng commended GLOFORD Uganda and AMREF Health Africa for aiding the monitoring process that has exposed gaps.
The district health officer, Dr. Buchan Ocen was available in the meeting to comment and he is expected to file a response in the upcoming follow up meeting.