Nakaseke, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | After reaping success in campaign against poor performance in Primary Leaving Examinations -PLE, Nakaseke LC 5 chairman has now shifted the fight to absenteeism of health workers.
In 2016, Nakaseke LC 5 chairman Ignatius Koomu Kiwanuka launched a campaign to establish whether the teachers understand what they teach and if headteachers are competent enough to help their learners to pass the Primary Leaving exams. The district council also passed a resolution to administer PLE to teachers but this was only blocked by Ministry of Education.
Since the campaign was launched in 2016, over 30 head teachers have been demoted after failing to ensure that candidates pass PLE. The fight has seen Nakaseke district’s pass rate increase significantly from 65 to 95 percent pass rate in 2019 as teachers and headteachers struggle not be demoted.
Nakaseke district now ranks better ahead of all other districts in the greater Luweero area, in 56 position nationwide followed by Luweero which was ranked 66 and Nakasongola in the 75th position in 2019 UNEB results.
Koomu says that campaign has largely been successful after pressure pilled on headteachers to supervise and ensure teachers teach daily so that they are not demoted.
Koomu says he intends to roll out the campaign to health sector to address the challenge of absenteeism and negligence of health workers which has blighted the services.
He adds that in his fresh campaign, he intends to pile pressure on the in-charge of health centers to ensure they appear at health centers daily and closely supervise junior staff to offer services to people.
In the campaign, the in-charge of health centers face demotion, salary deductions and dismissal if they are found guilty of the offenses by the district service commission.
Koomu intends to start the campaign in 2021 if he secures another term to stay in office.
Benjamin Makanga, the district councilor for Nakaseke sub county says that he supports the move because it addresses the public outcry over rampant absenteeism of health workers and poor health services.
Simon Musaazi, a resident of Nakaseke town says that several people have shunned government health centers over long queues because some staff opt to be absent and overload few that stay behind.
Musaazi adds that some doctors work few hours because they move to private clinics where they spend most time hence cheating the government. He adds that the campaign is welcome and is hopeful that it may awaken the health workers who absent themselves.
But several health workers at Nakaseke hospital who declined to be named said the move may plunge the health sector into further under-staffing since they won’t tolerate to work on pressure .
They say that Koomu must advocate for better accommodation which is among the issues that contribute to absenteeism.
Data from Twaweza’s new Sauti za Wananchi survey (2017), shows that about 15% respondents encountered problems of absent doctors and 30% said they spent long hours in queues among other challenges.
Recently, Luweero district health officer Innocent Nkonwa issued a circular ordering health centers in-charge to take proper analysis of daily performance of all staff and report to him. Nkonwa says staff shall be paid for the number of days worked in a month in accordance with the new guidelines.
Section F-B (10), the Uganda Public Standing Orders gives mandate to government to take disciplinary action against an officer including making deductions from his or her pay for any period during which he or she is absent from work without permission.
In 2014, government introduced a new payroll system where each staff signs staff lists and sends them to the CAO’s office by July 15th for onward transmission to the Finance ministry to process salaries. The guidelines are intended to stem absenteeism, ghost workers and boost efficiency of government workers.
However, despite all these measures and sanctions, absenteeism is still a challenge in health centers.