A new report by the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit (PMDU) shows an upward trend of health workers attending to duty in public health facilities across the 20 focus districts in Eastern Uganda.

The PMDU report shows a 9% increase in staff attendance to duty over the last fourteen months (14) from 79% in January 2017 to 88% in February 2018.

Prime Minister Rugunda with Ministers and Permanent Secretaries at meeting to review progress in service delivery at OPM ( Photo by Prime Minister’s Press Unit)

The twenty focus districts are: Bududa, Bugiri, Bukwo, Bulambuli, Buvuma, Buyende, Kaliro, Kapchorwa, Kayunga and Kween. Others are Luuka, Manafwa, Mayuge, Mbale, Namutumba, Pallisa, Serere, Sironko, Soroti and Tororo.

The findings from the 20 districts were discussed during a meeting convened by the Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda at his Office, to review progress in service delivery for the 20 focus Districts.

Improving service delivery in health is a priority for Government and it was on this basis that President Yoweri Museveni issued a Presidential directive in June 2016, stating that poor service delivery must be addressed decisively in the sectors of Education and Health.

The major concerns in the health sector include: Health workers neglecting patients, absenteeism, theft of medicines and shoddy work in infrastructure.

Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda in his remarks said effective service delivery requires an overarching approach, taking advantage of all support mechanisms from other sectors. He said the health sector needs the support of Local Governments and Public service to deliver effectively.

“Sectors need to be more innovative especially in terms of tapping the available support systems including local councils, religious leaders and cultural institutions,” Rugunda said.

He also noted that, sometimes more focus is on greater policy issues at the center which does not resonate with service delivery, leaving significant gaps between the center in Kampala, and local governments where actual service delivery takes place.

“The Delivery Unit, together with Health and Education sectors should work together to close the gaps that clog service delivery,” the Premier said, adding that the role of the Delivery Unit is not to take over the mandate of sectors but to play a catalytic role by ensuring that there are no gaps in service delivery.

The Minister of Health, Jane Aceng said the report by the Delivery Unit was encouraging and shows that a lot more can be achieved in the health sector with a little more effort.

She said her Ministry cannot fully undertake its mandate of continuous support supervision due to lack of adequate resources.

“Every time we budget for support supervision, it is cut by Ministry of Finance. We need to supervise the practice and service delivery and Ministry of Finance should provide the resources,” said the Health Minister.

Ministers and technical staff after meeting to review progress in service delivery in the health sector at OPM ( Photo by Prime Minister’s Press Unit)

Dr Aceng also applauded Government for the salary enhancement but cautioned that a multi sectoral approach is required for health workers to attend to their duties diligently. She also called for career growth opportunities for medical workers in local governments as well as a window for recruitment of critical staff.

The Minister of Public Service, Muruli Mukasa said some of the challenges affecting service delivery in the health sector require innovations. He said that there is need for mindset change among the leaders to know that they can achieve results even with limited resources.

The Minister of State for Local Government, Jennifer Namuyangu, said Government must address decisively the issue of accommodation for health workers.

“We also have a problem of non-qualified staff in medical facilities who work when the clinical officers are away,” Namuyangu said adding that many local governments are failing to attract staff due to inadequate facilities and essential supplies.

Namuyangu said many health workers run away for further studies immediately after accessing the pay roll which leaves a gap in service delivery.

The Deputy Head of the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit, Dorothy Kisaka who represented Prof. Ezra Suruma, the head of the Delivery Unit said 34 health workers have so far been deleted from the payroll and 147 warning letters issued by districts in the fight against absenteeism.

She said the major challenges that must be addressed include: Insubordination and absenteeism especially among the In-charges, lack of infrastructure especially transport and housing facilities, competing activities and poor coordination by other implementing partners as well as tampering with the duty rosters and health workers signing for colleagues who are absent from duty.

ENDS

Friday, May 18, 2018