Africa-Press – Uganda. Residents of Namutumba Sub-county in Namutumba District will soon be relieved of trekking long distances after construction of a Shs1.7b health centre III in Bulafa Village, Kigalama Parish started last week.The development is in response to the government’s strategic plan to have a health centre III in every sub-county and phase out health centre IIs.
Mr Denis Kabuzi from the Ministry of Health at the weekend said construction of the facility by Yanjing Construction Company will take 16 months. “We shall monitor in order to have value for money, but construction works will be done by the contractor. The Ministry (of Health) will not allow any shoddy work,” he said.
Mr John Naloka Mande, the outgoing district chairperson, said the facility is in response to an appeal by locals and the district council to have the health centre II elevated to a health centre III.“We are now optimistic that patients will be getting all services offered at the health centre III at no cost, while boda boda riders who have always charged expectant mothers exorbitant fares to seek services from Busolwe in Butaleja District will be no more,” he said.
Ms Robinah Nangobi, a retired midwife and resident of Kirinya Village, said the facility will save the lives of many expectant mothers, especially those who have been trekking to Nabukalu health centre III in Bugiri District.“Since the health centre III comes with many services which health centre IIs do not offer, it is going to boost the number of patients and reduce the referrals made to Bugiri and Busolwe,” Ms Nangobi said.Ms Joy Mutesi, another resident, called for full staffing of health workers and prompt delivery of drugs when the facility is completed.
Mr Tom Kajumba, the site supervisor, said the unit will comprise an outpatient department (OPD), children, female and male wards, maternity ward and staff quarters.He, however, urged locals to collaborate with workers, saying at times they get challenges on the site when the community is not cooperative and supportive.
ChallengesMr Samuel Gusango, the Namutumba Sub-county chairperson-elect, said the government’s efforts to construct health centre IIIs is hampered by inadequate staffing levels and lack of staff housing, among other challenges.Ms Edith Kakose, a village health team official, said drug stock-outs have been minimised due to timely delivery by the National Medical Stories.
“However, the challenge is that the drugs get finished within a few days due to the high number of patients in the units. Our records show that Busolwe Health Centre IV and Bugiri referral hospital receive the highest number of expectant mothers from Namutumba,” she said. Dr Kirya James, the district health officer, said authorities are aware of the challenges but added that they cannot be worked on at the same time. “The most important thing is that health centre IIIs are being constructed in the district, which means more services. I urge the residents to support the contractors,” he said.Adding: “We appeal to residents not to be tempted to steal construction equipment because it will affect the progress of construction.”
Benefits of upgradingUpgrading from a health centre II to III not only comes with an increase in service delivery, but also the amount of drug stock out increases from the current Shs1.2m they receive bi-monthly to Shs4.4m. There is also an increase in the primary healthcare grant from Shs1.5m per quarter to Shs17m. In 2019, government announced plans to upgrade 206 health centre 11s to health centre 111s countrywide to improve service delivery at local government level.
Authorities say government aims to, among others, reduce maternal mortality and bring a comprehensive package of maternal and laboratory services closer to the people. Dr Charles Olaro, the director of clinical services at the Ministry of Health, said mothers have been delivering from home because of the long distances to access health centre IIIs, putting their lives at a risk.