Lower Health Facilities Struggle to Contain Workload, Constant Stockouts

Scientists have expressed concern that lower Health facilities handling bigger workloads than referral hospitals are still getting few supplies despite data showing that they are in constant stockout of essential medicines.

Dr Jolly Beyeza, a Researcher based at Makerere University School of Public Health says that they conducted a survey and found that some Health Centers III and IV in Kampala and Mukono were overwhelmed by the numbers and constantly understocked.

They found facilities like Komamboga Health Centre III, Kisenyi Health Centre IV and Mukono Health Centre IV were handling the same numbers of deliveries as Kawempe Hospital, which gets bigger supplies and has a higher number of personnel. 

The scientists who were assessing the provision of key reproductive, maternal and child health services in selected health facilities, blamed this on the policy which has put a cap on the supplies and health workers a unit categorized as a Health Center III should get.

A unit at the level of Health Centre III has about 20 staff who run both the outpatient department and the maternity ward, but with this staff load, the researchers found the facility had handled more than 3,000 clients in their Antenatal Care (ANC) Clinic and about 1500 deliveries between July and December.

Kisenyi and Mukono Health Centre IV had handled about 8,000 clients in their Antenatal Care Clinic each, about the same number Kawempe handled in the same period. Beyeza says what is overwhelming these facilities, even more, is the fact that they also receive a big number of mothers who are referred from private facilities once they fail to handle them.

She now recommends that if the government cannot offer these facilities supplies which match their workloads, they would rather have them upgraded to hospital status in order to qualify them for the supplies they require to save mothers worrying that health workers are experiencing burn out which affects their output. 

In this survey, researchers assessed seven Health Center IIIs, seven Health Center IVs and four hospitals were sampled both low and high-volume facilities in the urban and rural areas.

URN spoke to the Ministry of Health about their findings and Dr Charles Olaro, the Director of Curative Services said they are currently reviewing the structures of health facilities and instead of looking at the level of the Health facility, they will soon start looking at numbers a facility handles to deploy health workers that match them.

He says already, the World Health Organization has guided them to have one midwife for every one hundred and seventy-five mothers.

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