Uganda: Health Centres Turn Away Patients After Measles Training Kicks Off

14 October 2019

Several health centres in Apac District at the weekend remained non-functional as health workers underwent orientation on how to administer rubella and measles vaccine on children.

Daily Monitor learnt that some health facilities in the area turned away patients as health staff, who were not participating in the training, absconded from duty.

Last month, the Ministry of Health launched a campaign on using a new combination vaccine against measles and rubella (MR) on children.

This came after government procured at least 20 million doses of the MR vaccine with $19 million (about Shs70b) financial support from the Global Vaccine Alliance. The vaccination exercise targets more than 18 million children aged between nine months and 14 years.

However, to prepare them for the exercise, health workers had to undergo a refresher course in their different districts.

Invitation was then extended to all sub-counties to send at least two health workers and two mobilisers per immunisation point to attend the training, Kwania District health officer Moses Obong said.

"This means if there are 30 immunisation points in a sub-county, 60 health workers are invited," he explained, adding that his office had not received any case of staff absenteeism during the training in Kwania.

The three-day training, which started on Friday, was organised by the Ministry of Health.

For Apac Municipality, it was held at the Red Cross Hall. But as the training kicked off, most health facilities in Apac remained non-functional due to staff absenteeism.

At Biashara Health Centre II, Akere Division in Apac Municipality, for instance, patients said they were advised to try private health facilities since there was no one to attend to them.

When our reporter visited Biashara Health Centre II last Friday, he saw only two support staff at the facility. They included one porter and a guard.

"More than 30 patients came here this morning but we told them to go to private facilities," a porter said.

Mr Emmanuel Otyama, a health worker attached to Apwori Health Centre II in Chawente Sub-county, said some health workers had remained behind to deliver services.

The Apac secretary for health, Mr Tonny Jasper Odongo, said the training affected mostly health centre IIs that have inadequate staff. "But health centre IIIs are not affected," he said.

There are 12 health centre IIs scattered across the entire Apac District.

Absent

Findings. However, staff absenteeism is not something new in Apac District. A community scorecard administered by the Apac Anti-Corruption Coalition in May 2019 showed that staff absenteeism continues to affect service delivery in the district.

Background

Last month, the Ministry of Health launched a campaign on using a new combination vaccine against measles and rubella (MR) on children.

This came after government procured at least 20 million doses of the MR vaccine with $19 million (about Shs70b) financial support from the Global Vaccine Alliance. The vaccination exercise targets more than 18 million children aged between nine months and 14 years.

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