Medical workers using unqualified relatives to administer treatment

Relatives of medical workers and casual laborers in Luweero district have allegedly taken to administering treatment to patients in health center IIs. The affected health centers are Kabakedi, Mazzi, Kabanyi, Bamugolodde, Kikuube, Lutuula and Kigombe health centers among others. Livingstone Kategeya, the Kamira sub county LC 3 chairperson attributes the problem to lack of sufficient medical workers and accommodation for the available staff.

He says that due to lack of sufficient manpower relatives of medical workers and casual laborers step in to prescribe and administer treatment to patients, which puts their lives at risk. Kategeya cites Mazzi Health Center 11 that caters for people in four parishes. He says Mazzi Health Center 11 receives between 100 -150 patients daily, who can’t be handled by the two available medical workers. Kategeya says due to the staff shortage, health workers have recruited their unqualified relatives and children to help them administer treatment to patients, which he says is very dangerous.

Sunday Richard Ale, the coordinator Forum for Women in Democracy says they made an impromptu visit to Kabakedi Health Center 11 and found cleaner dispensing drugs to patients. He says that they carried out a survey in the community, which showed that health workers at Kabakedi Health Center 11 had left their responsibilities for the cleaner and were working for only two days. Ale says they have notified the concerned local authorities to take appropriate action. Chrysostom Buyinza, a resident of Kyegombwa village says despite the fact that they are aware of the dangers of being treated by unqualified personnel, they have no option since their pleas to the district to post more health workers  have fallen on deaf ears.

Rachael Nabuuma, a resident of Kikuube trading center explains that even the few health workers at Kikuube Health Center 11 arrive at midday and leave early citing lack of accommodation and transport problems. Nabuuma claims that the health ministry posted some medical workers at the health center, but they were not provided with accommodation which, contributes to absenteeism. Dinah Namatovu, a nursing assistant at Kikuube Health Center 11 says that she travels 16 kilometers to her work station each day, which costs her 5000 shillings yet it is not provided for. She explains that because of staying far away from the health center, she at times arrives late for work.

But Ssemuyaba Katongole, the LC 3 Chairperson of Butuntumula sub county says that they mobilized resources and constructed single roomed houses for the in charges of the health centers, but they rejected them because they don’t want to stay in remote areas.

Joseph Okware, the Luweero District Health Officer says that he was not aware of the casual laborers are involved in administering treatment to patients. He says each health center is meant to have only two medical workers, but they have established that they are too few to handle the soaring number of patients visiting the units. Okware says the health ministry gave them green light to recruit staff at Health Center 111 and IV’s only. He says that they are planning to recruit health workers at hospital and Health Center 11 levels this financial year.

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