Rakai district loses about Shillings 1.2 billion annually on the salaries of absentee health workers, a report by the State House Healthy Monitoring Unit has revealed. The report was compiled during a monitoring and evaluation exercise conducted by a team from the Health Ministry and State House Health Monitoring Unit between April and June this year.

Dr. Diana Atwine, the Director State House Health Monitoring Unit, says during the monitoring exercise they discovered chronic absenteeism of health workers in 43 Health Centers in Rakai district each month. The report shows that chronic absenteeism was very common in Kabuwoko, Kifamba, Lwamagwa, Kacheera, Kyebe and other health centers due to lack of close supervision by concerned authorities and departments.

It is said that only 4 out of the 9 health workers at the units would report for duty during the monitoring period, which created room for watchmen to treat patients out of sympathy. The report observes that sometimes watchmen would go as far as prescribing drugs or writing medical reports, which exposed the lives of patients to risk.

Dr. Atwine says they also discovered that some health workers forge the Ministry of Health stamp and take study leave. They also found forged duty rosters in various health units and failure by in-charges to account for the daily activities due to poor record keeping. The report also shows that several inconsistencies were identified in the office of the District Health Officer-DHO, Dr. Moses Ssaku such as receipts of payments to some staff for no work done and expenditures that couldn’t be explained.

According to Dr. Atwine, before releasing salaries clinical officers must give reports on what was done, present log books indicating their routine activities, number of patients discharged and admitted to the CAO and send copies to the RDC, DHO and District Chairperson, which wasn’t done on many occasions. She also faults the district internal auditor for failing to audit books well and the Senior Assistant Secretary-SAS formerly known as Sub-county chiefs who failed to monitor the attendance of health workers.

According to Dr. Atwine, they intend to recommend the suspension or expulsion of health workers found guilty for abscondment.  A female in-charge of one of the implicated units, who declined to be named, says that her unit is understaffed yet they attend to many patients. She explains that they are few health workers who are overworked and need at least a day off to rest, which is difficult to explain to patients.

Moses Saku, the Rakai DHO has promised to step his vigilance in monitoring health workers across the district so as to improve on health service delivery to residents. Agnes Namusiitwa, the Rakia vice LC 5 Chairperson has applauded the report, saying it will help them track the performance of health workers for effective service delivery.

She appeals to Solomon Ssonko, the Rakai Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), to use his powers to lay off incompetent health workers, adding that transferring them would just transfer their laziness to the new work stations. Solomon Ssonko, the Rakai Chief Administrative Officer has promised to do whatever it takes to get rid of the incompetent health workers and recruit those who can deliver for the good of the district.