Pay attention to rural public health centres

Last Thursday, Daily Monitor reported a shortage of essential drugs at Bukeeri Health Centre III in Masaka District.
According to Dr Joseph Muwanga, the officer in charge of Bukeeri Health Centre III, most of the essential medicines to treat common diseases such as malaria, cough, pneumonia, diarrhoea and hypertension, are not readily available.
The district health officer, Dr Stuart Musisi, said the centre was waiting for the National Medical Stores to send a consignment of drugs to the district and that the last delivery had been made at the beginning of May. Those seeking treatment at the facility, which serves at least 12 villages, are now being referred to Buwunga Health Centre III, located about 12kms away.
As if the shortage is not bad enough, Buwunga Health Centre III to which Bukeeri is referring patients, has problems of its own. The centre is grappling with water shortage and power challenges as the solar system they have cannot power the refrigerator to preserve blood for transfusion, as well as providing enough light. The officer in charge of Buwunga Health Centre III, Ms Maria Nakayiki, revealed the matter has been reported to the authorities several times, but nothing has been done.
Buwunga and Bukeeri health centres are just a few of the public health facilities that are struggling to serve rural communities across the country despite shortages and lack of funding and other kinds of facilitation. Many of these problems might never even be known to the public given the remote location of these public facilities.
It is, therefore, disturbing that Parliament has approved the creation of 65 new constituencies without first improving the quality of public service in the already existing constituencies. Members of Parliament argue that all 65 districts with one county be given a second constituency each to bring services closer to the people. This is not logical since even with fewer constituencies, such shortages as the one at Bukeeri Health Centre are common.
The usual excuse given for poor services at public facilities, especially in healthcare and education sectors, is lack of funds. How is it then that increasing government expenditure in terms of catering to an ever growing Parliament seems to be a walk in the park? Government should pay more attention to public services, especially at the grassroots. Delivery of drugs should be efficient without such lapses as to leave communities with nowhere to turn to for treatment and procurement of facilities such a more efficient power source to run the refrigerator at Buwunga Health Centre to preserve blood. Such public needs must not be ignored or unnecessarily delayed.

The issue: Healthcare
Our view: Government must pay more attention to the plight of public services at the grassroots. Delivery of drugs should be efficient without such lapses as to leave communities with nowhere to turn to for treatment.


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