The Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga has called for the review of administrative functions devolved to local governments in light of what she said were failures in health services delivery.
In a meeting with a group of health advocates to discuss health workers’ absenteeism at local health facilities, Kadaga said it is time sensitive services like health be vested entirely under authority of the central government.
“We have to review decentralization because it seems many of the functions left to local governments are not yielding the desired results,” said Kadaga.
Describing the health sector as one of the “sick sectors in our country,” the Speaker lauded the volunteers for “knowing your civic rights and beginning a revolution in the health sector”.
Ms Christine Nanziri, an advocacy volunteer who presented a report to the Speaker on health workers absenteeism called for Parliament’s intervention.
In a presentation laced with anecdotal reference to harrowing tales of neglected health centers in which patients suffer, Nanziri said Parliament should enforce supervision to ensure attendance and delivery of health services to patients.
“On average, our health workers report at 10.00am and leave at 2.00pm. Even then, they have a tendency to register, then abscond without offering any services to patients,” said Nanziri.
Kadaga offered to connect the group to a Kenyan lady who she said started a similar initiative, and recently addressed a United Nations Summit on women issues held in New York about her successes.
Upon the advent of the 1995 Constitution, several layers of local administration were created, with services such as health and education becoming devolved functions.
Nanziri said most health workers front lack of equipment and poor remuneration as one of the core reasons for their absenteeism.
In the recent past, heath workers’ pay has attracted a controversial debate with President Yoweri Museveni insisting government will import Cuban doctors to take charge of major health facilities.
This, said President Museveni, is because of the “indiscipline” by perennially striking medical doctors who have persistently complained about poor pay.
The health system hierarchy, meanwhile, was designed to have health centre II, III and IV deal with medical conditions with referrals in case of complications in that order.
Due to second rate services at the lower levels, however, patients flood Mulago National Referral Hospital, which is under pressure to expand.
The lobbyists asked Parliament to increase funding for health inspection to enforce attendance to duty by health workers.