MUKONO/NEWSDAY: Medical workers at Nabalanga health center III in Nakifuma town council are facing transport challenges after security officers allegedly confiscated their travel permits and also banned them from using boda bodas and commuter taxis.
The health centre is currently groaning under an influx of patients turning up for treatment who are being handled by the only four health workers who stay at the facility.
Nabalanga has 12 medical workers and six support staff. However, the facility’s officer-in-charge Rebeccah Nassali says her staff members are being been forced to walk distances of over ten kilometers because security blocked them from using boda bodas and taxis even after identifying themselves as medical workers.
Nassali says that even when they managed to secure travel documents from the resident district commissioner (RDC) and district health offices as directed by President Museveni last week, security officers deployed at roadblocks confiscated the documents, saying they were null and void.
Nassali says currently the facility is also struggling to handle the patient influx amidst inadequate water and electricity supply after their solar system also malfunctioned and stopped pumping water and lighting up the facility.
“We would wish to abide by the president’s order of staying at the facility during this time, but our accommodation facility can only cater for four people, lacks electricity needed especially to help mothers deliver during night hours and also enough medicine especially at this time when many people left town centers to villages,” said Nassali.
Statistics at Nabalanga health centre III indicate that before the new travel restrictions, the facility was receiving on average about 30 clients daily but now the number has increased to 70, while staff attendance has fallen from 18 to four.
The assistant officer-in-charge of the facility Mustafah Kayondo explains that they are further frustrated by the travel ban when making referrals because when they call for the ambulances, they sometimes delay by over 5 hours and they are left with no options but to use commuter taxis or boda boda for the critical cases which are sometimes blocked by security.
Kayondo appeals to the district and the government to at least provide two emergence vehicles to transport medical workers and another one to help in effecting referrals.
“Most of the time we are forced to treat patients from outside due to the congested nature of our facility, the most challenging moment is making referrals for the most critical emergencies,” said Kayondo.
However, Dr Stephen Mulindwa, the Mukono district health officer (DHO) says complaints of travel restrictions are not from medical workers but impersonators pretending to work at the facility. According to him, Nakifuma relies on two ambulances from St Francis Hospital, Naggalama to cater for referrals.
“No health worker in the district has had no issues with traveling to work. Once they announced the lockdown, we dispatched two ambulances that take patients free of charge. I have not received any reports of health workers facing transport challenges,” said Mulindwa.
Nakifuma town council health inspector Deborah Nakabugo says the district needs a review of its methods of responding to emergencies. She notes that one ambulance at Naggalama responds to only Covid-19 emergencies while the other charges patients for other ailments with patients asked to pay a starting price of Shs 150,000 for the ambulance services from Naggalama to Kampala.
Meanwhile, the Mukono residence district commissioner (RDC) Fatumah Ndisaba acknowledges that there is still a big gap between her office and security teams in the field implementing the presidential orders. She acknowledges that security have been confiscating travel permits issued out to essential workers in the community yet play an important role in the fight against Covid-19.
Do you want to share a story, comment or opinion regarding this story or others, Email us at email@example.com Tel/WhatsApp........0726054858