Following general public outcry over the deteriorating health sector, His excellency, the President of the Republic of Uganda set up the Medicines and Health Services Delivery monitoring unit. This was meant to be a partial solution to the numerous problems identified within the sector. Already existing measures to revamp the health sector are as follows: Funding to the health sector has been significantly increased; and more than one thousand health centres have been constructed. The government on its part has decentralized health care; and most of these health units are under the direct supervision of the district local governments. It is mainly the failure of this supervisory role that led to the deterioration of these services and facilities. Other parallel solutions to augment these Â efforts are underway; for example, increase of health workersâ€™ salaries in the next financial year and attracting and retaining more technical man-power within the sector.
This unit was set up in September 2009. In the last five months of operation, we have noticed a recurrence of the following problems that continue to plague our countryâ€™s health sector: corruption and embezzlement of funds channeled to the sector; absentee medical personnel; ghost health personnel and ghost health centers; theft of government drugs, health supplies and installations; understaffing that has led to unbearable work-loads for health workers. The following can further shed some light on the magnitude of the problem:
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â In Sironko district, 252 dedicated health workers had never appeared on the pay-roll even after being confirmed as health workers of the district.
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â In Mubende, a big number of children lost and are still losing livesÂ to treatable illnesses especially Malaria. Notwithstanding the fact that malaria drugs are availed to all districts by National Medical Stores and are misappropriated by some individuals.
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â In Manafwa, an in-charge of one of the government health centres is under investigation for making off with X-ray machines, an ambulance, gas canisters and drugs.
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â We have found that the greater number of private clinics are not registered, and worse still have unqualified staff running these clinics.
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Concerning understaffing, Isingiro district has only one doctor employed by the government yet it has close to 60 health facilities. He is the DHO and has to coordinateÂ allÂ administrative work as well.
The above malpractices continue unabated all over the country with impunity, Â mostly because health workers are perceived as a special group, mainly due to their scarcity in the country. It, however, should be noted that the era of taking Ugandansâ€™ lives for granted is over. The long arm of the law shall reach any one, health worker or not, within the borders of this country that is involved in any form of unethical behavior. This action shall not exclude individuals or groups of individuals that infringe on health workersâ€™ rights; like the right to be appropriately compensated for their work and the right to work in a safe environment. It is no longer acceptable. Ugandans have said no and justice shall be seen to be done.
We are not working alone in this enormous fight. Thus far, we have had tremendous support from civil society and health professionals within the sector. We are also working in close proximity with the police, the office of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions, IGGâ€™s office, District Local Governments, health professional bodies and other security organs. It should hence be understood clearly that we are not here to antagonize or duplicate already existing efforts, but are here to fill an obvious gap; so that together with the existing institutions, we can achieve the desired goal; an efficient and graft free health care system with an equally well remunerated health work force.
We still call upon the public to work hand-in-hand with us, and also encourage all health professionals to join in this effort to clean the health sector. Furthermore, the ministry of health needs to increase on its already existing monitoring efforts. The health professional bodies like the medical council, pharmaceutical society of Uganda and the Allied health professionalsâ€™ body need to increase on their vigilance.
Lastly, yesterday Tuesday, the 9th of March 2010; Dr. Richard Ndyomugyenyi- project manager, National Malaria Control Programme, Dr. Myers Lugemwa â€“ focal person monitoring and evaluation, NMCP and Mr. Martin Shibeki were arrested by the police and charged under reference E/075/2010 of CID Headquaters Kibuli. Dr. Ndyomugyenyi- is charged with corruption contrary to section 2(i) of the Anti-corruption Act 6 of 2009 for neglecting to ensure the proper management of the Chinese donated drugs, duo-cotecxin and arco. Whilst Dr. Myers and Shibeke are jointly charged with corruption contrary to section 2 (h) of the Anti-corruption Act 6 of 2009 who by their acts or omissions caused the requisition and distribution of antimalarial drugs for the purpose of illicitly obtaining benefits for themselves or for third parties. We cannot further comment on a case that is due to be heard before a court of law.
We call upon the media to be accurate in its reporting and to further our cause for better health service within our country.
FOR GOD AND MY COUNTRY.