Bukwo, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Covid-19 mobilisation efforts have been affected by a strike by Village Health Teams across Bukwo district. The teams together with local council chairpersons have laid down their tools in protest of government failure to clear their allowances.
Village Health Teams were established by the Ministry of Health to empower communities to take part in the decisions that affect their health; mobilize communities for health programs, and strengthen the delivery of health services at the household level. As Uganda battled the COVID-19 pandemic, they were enlisted to support the existing structures in identifying patients and implementing home-based care initiatives.
Joseph Mongusho, one of the Village Health Team members attached to Swam said that the government sent 466 million Shillings to Bukwo district of which 316 million Shillings was meant for allowances for Village Health Teams and chairpersons, but they have not received any payment since July 2021.
Betty Cherop, another member of the Village Health Team attached to Riwo said each village was supposed to receive 400,000 Shillings for its members. There are 790 villages in Bukwo.
Simon Sabila, the chairperson of Riwo village said laying down tools was the only option for them to show their dissatisfaction with the delayed payments. He says they have been sensitizing communities about COVID-19 and monitoring the borders during the lockdown, to ensure that movement is controlled as a measure to control the spread of COVID-19.
Bukwo Resident District Commissioner Samuel Mpimbaza Hashaka said that the matter of payments of VHTs and LCI chairpersons has been discussed in the weekly task force meetings and resolutions are made but no action has been taken by the office of the Chief Administrative Officer and the Chief Finance Officer.
Hashaka adds that the mobilisation programs have now been paralyzed because the VHTs and the local chairpersons have been at the forefront of the activities. He adds that the task force has discovered that the office of the Chief Administrative Officer had created ghost villages to benefit from the allocations.
“…The technical team had created ghost villages to reach 900 out of the original 790, so that they pay those ghost villages and the money goes to the district officials, but we have removed those villages from the list,” he said.
Bukwo district chairperson Julius Chelimo said he is also trying to clean up the mess left by his previous colleagues.