By: Perez Rumanzi
Eight health centres in Ntungamo District have never received health workers and drug supplies ever since they were constructed 10 years ago. Some have since been turned into stores while others are hideouts for thieves.
The facilities, which reportedly cost at least Shs400m each, were constructed using Local Government Development Fund II during the 2002 and 2003 financial years. They have an out patients unit, a drug store and office, staff houses and pit-latrines. Three of the health centres IIs are in Ruhaama Sub-county, while Itojo, Rukoni East, Kayonza, Nyabihoko and Ihunga sub-counties have one each.
“When this health unit was constructed, we thought we would have better health services closer to us but it has become a disaster for the village,” Mr Eliab Kamezire, a resident of Katojo Parish told the Daily Monitor at Katojo Health Centre last Friday.
“Thieves simply (hide) there and steal our cattle. We want it operational or be demolished,” Mr Kamezire added.
The health centre’s glass doors are shattered and has a bushy compound. The drug store is used for storing construction materials for a neighbour while one of the staff houses is littered with human waste.
Karungu Health Centre in Rukoni East is in a similar state. The residents travel past it to Rukoni Health Centre III located 21km in Rukoni West Sub-county to access health services. The district health officer, Dr Richard Bakamuturaki, admits the health centres have not been operational. “They have never been used as health centres and we have been pushing, but this is not the lone challenge,” Dr Bakamuuraki said.
The district secretary for finance and human resources, Ms Mbabazi Shakilah Karyeija, said the district executive, which visited the idle health units a recommended that some health workers be recruited to operate them.
UNDERSTAFFING WEIGHS DOWN CENTRES Mr Tom Rwomushana, the Ruhaama LC3 chairperson, said health units which are operational do not do proper referrals and sometimes expectant women lose lives. Officiating at the opening of a staff house unit at Itojo Hospital recently, the First Lady and Ruhaama MP, Ms Janet Museveni, said funding to health centres was still limited. Each of the four health centre IVs in the district – Kitwe, Rubaare, Rwashamaire and Ntungamo are supposed to be overseen by a doctor but they do not have any. Authorities say they get few responses to medical job advertisements. Only three medical officers were recruited at Kitwe, Rubaare and Rwashamaire in 2011.