Rethink Plan to Phase-out Health Centre IIs –MPs to Govt

3134 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Health Centre IIs provide the first level of interaction between the formal health sector and communities.

Government is urged to rethink its plan to phase-out Health Centre IIs across the country. 

The Centre's provide the first level of interaction between the formal health sector and communities. With an enrolled comprehensive nurse in charge, the centres provide outpatient care, community outreach services and linkages with the village health team (VHT).

However, recent media reports quoted the Permanent Secretary of the Health Ministry stating that government was scaling down the health centers due to the failure to raise human resource capacity to sustain them. About 63,000 health workers are needed to run the nearly 70,000 HC IIs in Uganda.

According to the plan, government would then redirect investments towards upper levels of health establishments and phase out the HC IIs over time.

But Members of Parliament have warned government against the move saying it is likely to increase maternal and infant mortality rates. Several legislators argue that expectant women from the countryside use HC IIs as their first point of contact because the next administrative level is distant. 

Gulu Woman MP Betty Aol Ochan observes that instead, government needs to upgrade the current Health Centre IIs and empower them to handle more complex ailments. Ochan adds that phasing out the grassroots health centres with worsen the health care system of the sector that is already crippling.
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Similarly, Kinkizi West MP James Kaberuka says that Health Centre IIs can perform better if well facilitated with drug stock and adequate staffing. He said the planned phase-out hints to a planning problem within government.
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Koboko Woman MP Margaret Baba Diri says that health centre II is very important for mothers to access antenatal care and immunization services.  Her view was augmented by Sironko Woman MP Florence Nambozo Mayoga. 
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Dr Peter Waiswa, an associate professor at Makerere University School of Public Health said that in some districts especially in the north 70 percent of facilities are health centre IIs.  He cited a need for government to direct efforts at improving accessibility and extension of quality attention to mothers.
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They were speaking at an advocacy meeting on maternal and newborn health organised by Save the Children Uganda for members of the 10th Parliament.

The discussion comes in the wake of preparations for the commemoration of the International Safe Motherhood Day on October 17. The day is marked to draw attention to the fact that all women should receive the care they need to be safe and healthy throughout pregnancy and childbirth.

Reports indicate that Uganda experiences 85,000 deaths surrounding births annually with mothers dying from bleeding, hypertension and related cases which can be managed at the lowest health facilities if well-funded and managed.


About the author

Olive Nakatudde
Olive Nakatudde is a URN journalist based in Kampala. Nakatudde has been a URN staff member since 2013.

Nakatudde started out in journalism in 2009 with Dembe FM radio in Kampala. In 2012, Nakatudde joined Voice of Africa as a political reporter. She has been a photographer since her journalism school days at Makerere University.

Nakatudde is interested in good governance and public policy, which she reports on intensively from the Uganda Parliament. She is a keen follower of cultural affairs in Buganda Kingdom and covers the kingdom's Lukiiko (parliament). Nakatudde also reports on education and health.