Increasing cases of absenteeism and late coming of health workers has been attributed to inadequacies of staff houses at the health centres.
This was revealed during the Committee on Health’s oversight visit to various health facilities in Kabale District on Wednesday, 8 November 2023.
Kabale Ag District Health Officer, Barnabas Tiwangye said most of the health centres are still grappling with accommodation challenges with some staff being forced to sleep in hospital wards.
“In most of our health centre IVs, the majority of staff stay outside the facility. Our staff accommodation stands at less than 15 per cent. This contributes to late coming and absenteeism as staff have to maneuver the terrains to reach the health centres. This has affected the performance of most of our staff,” Tiwangye said.
Apart from having a regional referral hospital and two other general hospitals, Kabale has four health centre IVs out of which three are fully functional with the exception of Kakomo Health Centre IV which lacks adequate infrastructure, human resource and basic equipment such as a theatre, ultrasound scan and laboratory equipment.
To address the issue of staff absenteeism, Mbarara District Woman Representative, Hon. Margaret Ayebare urged the Kabale leadership to borrow a leaf from Rubanda which carries out regular attendance analysis and set up tough measures to ensure reliability and availability of staff at the health centres and hospitals.
“We have given you enough money as scientists and it should motivate you to be on duty. In Rubanda, they hold your salary if you are absent on duty and you will have to face disciplinary measures. Nonetheless, we shall ensure that there is money for staff housing,” Ayebare said, adding that housing shortages are a cross-cutting issue in many other districts.
Due to its topography which makes accessibility difficult, the MPs agreed that Kigezi sub-region be treated as a hard-to-reach area and thus, prioritized for staff houses.
The district is also stranded with several health projects constructed by the UPDF Engineering Brigade which have stalled while others have not kicked off despite the contractor receiving funds.
“We have set up a meeting of the committee and UPDF Engineering Brigade to solve this matter. They are paid all the money, but work has not even started on many projects. And even the quality of work is deteriorating because they are having so many projects to run,” Hon. Nicholas Kamara (FDC, Kabale Municipality), who is also the leader of the delegation said.
In 2021, President Yoweri Museveni issued a directive to the Ministers of Health and Education to ensure that the army’s construction brigade undertakes all new construction projects for health facilities and schools.
According to the President, this would curb corruption and delays caused by lengthy procurement processes.