Health Services Breakdown in Northern Uganda

more about geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 200%;”>The Committee on Health was in Lira, Oyam and Gulu at the end of January 2014 to monitor the performance of the primary healthcare grants appropriated to the three districts as well as the funds voted for the two regional referral hospitals (RRH) of Lira RRH and Gulu RRH.

The committee was also interested in assessing how the region was addressing Hepatitis B, nodding disease syndrome, functionality of lower health facilities, HIV/AIDS services and other related health issues.

The Committee observed that Hepatitis B was common in Lira and Gulu, where health workers, some of whom were not vaccinated as required, were a target as they provide front like services to patients.

“At Lira Regional Referral Hospital, about 90 health workers, including support staff, had been vaccinated. However, in lower health facilities, health workers were not yet vaccinated,” said the Chairperson of the Committee, Dr. Kenneth Omona (NRM, Kaberamaido), who presented the Report to Parliament Tuesday afternoon.

In Lira RRH, hospital staff numbers had fallen from 313 in 2011 to 275 in January 2014, hence affecting the delivery of healthcare. A proposal by health facilities in Lira to have a blood collection and distribution centre in Lira – intended to improve supplies, is yet to be approved.

The Committee recommended that the Ministry of Health and Uganda Blood Transfusion Services study the feasibility of designating Lira as a Blood collection and distribution centre for Lango sub region.

Although, reports suggested that the supply of medicines by National Medical Stores (NMS) had improved, challenges remained, including drugs running out due to the high turn up of patients; supply of drugs with short lifespan, and health workers stealing public drugs from public health facilities, and failure by NMS to supply reagents and other vital supplies such as HIV kits.

The Committee noted the lack of a functional ambulance system to strengthen the referral system. Dr. Omona added that where some ambulances existed, they lacked maintenance and fuel forcing patients to step in and pay for themselves.

The Committee recommended the enactment of the National Ambulance Policy to address the current ambulance crisis in the country.

Members said the health system needs to be improved across the country. They wondered why NMS enjoyed the monopoly of supplying drugs to health facilities and why it cannot open up regional centres.

Hon. James Akena (UPC, Lira Municipality), who noted that some areas of Lira had not benefited from internal residual spray (IRS), said the Ministry needed to break down the mosquito breeding cycle in order to properly eliminate malaria.

Hon. Sarah Kayagi (NRM, Manafwa district) said there was need to have student interns vaccinated since they also provide health services to patients, where they are posted.

The Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Wafula Oguttu (FDC, Bukoolo Central), said problems facing the mentioned districts were common in other areas of the country. He said government needed to act on observations and recommendations made by Parliament.

“NMS is a major problem; it sometimes sends drugs that are not needed, their drugs are more expensive; the monopoly of NMS is not useful to the country; we should have regional medical stores,” he said.


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