Uganda needs to fill 44% of the vacant positions in the health sector if service delivery is to improve. A health sector review mission on the health sector status of Uganda notes that there is need for more recruitment of health personnel to ensure better service delivery.
Dr. Francis Runumi Mwesigye the commissioner health services says currently there is only 56% personnel yet their aim is 62% in the coming financial year.
Dr. Runumi says the health structure indicates a lack of health workers especially senior consultants, medical officers, radiographers, laboratory technicians, doctors and mid wives in the rural areas. He says in the rural areas, the lack of midwives in most health centers has increased the maternal mortality rate to 435.
//Cue in...we do not."
Cue out. Their services."//
According to the health sector strategic and investment plan launched on Monday for the next five years, the lack of human resource is blamed on the poor payment of workers.
The Joint review mission recognizes that most health workers have shunned government institutions to work in the private sector and leave the country for greener pastures.
They are thus agitating for a comparable pay measure with other East African countries. Uganda is the lowest paying country at a rate of 680,000 shillings compared to Rwanda at 1.360,000 shillings, Kenya 1.59,0000 shillings and Tanzania paying 1.320,000 shillings.
The chairperson Health Service Commission Professor George Kirya says they have resorted to recruiting around the year to keep up with the demand for workers.
Dr. Margheret Mungerera the president of Uganda Medical Association says Government should prioritize within the budget it has now and come up with a duty facilitating allowance and show commitment. She adds that Government also pledged to increase their salaries by 30% but are currently being paid between 5 and 20% of the increment.
//Cue in...we are only."
Cue out..related allowances."//
However, civil society organizations note that in spite of the poor pay and few health workers in the country, there is need for accountability in terms of absenteeism, supervision and attitude towards patients and work needs to be addressed.
Kaitiritimba Robinah a member of the Uganda National Health Consumers Organization says when handling health workers pay, they should also be held accountable for their performance.
//Cue in..when you go."
Cue out..very early."//
The health sector strategic and investment plan for the next five years also highlights issues regarding the poor state of infrastructure. The report notes that there is still need to improve community health centers to general hospital level, expansion of Mulago hospital and the radiotherapy facilities, upgrading of Mbarara and Gulu hospitals, Uganda blood transfusion services, Uganda cancer institute and the heart institute and maintenance of all buildings and equipment for the entire sector at a tune of 3,712 billion shillings for the 5 year period.
The strategic plan also proposes an increase in the budget to cover essential medicines and health supplies. Dr. Runumi calls on Government to increase the insufficient National medical stores budget to cater for the ever increasing population and ensure drugs reach the rural areas.
There is also need to improve on skills development of managers to avoid squandering of resources, operational funds and utilize human resource to improve service delivery.