The Committee on Government Assurances and Implementation has called for the full operationalisation of health centres in local governments.
The committee led by the Chairperson, Hon. Betty Nambooze noted that whereas government has largely fulfilled its commitment to have a health centre III in every sub-county, many of the new health facilities are not fully functional despite having new structures and equipment.
This was revealed during the committee’s two-day field visit in the Eastern region, which commenced on Thursday, 26 October 2023 with the aim of assessing the level of implementation of health sector-based government assurances in local governments and regional referral hospitals.
In their first stopover, the Members of Parliament interacted with Jinja district leadership, before touring Mpambwa Health Centre III which was recently rehabilitated and equipped by Ministry of Health at Shs1.6 billion.
“I am pleased that every sub-county in Jinja has a health centre III but they are not well equipped …This money for upgrading health centres was borrowed in 2019 but we are now in 2023 and these health centres are not yet fully operational yet Ugandans are already paying interest,” Nambooze noted.
Ministry of Health standards require that a Health Centre III should have at least an outpatient department, general ward of not less than 20 beds, maternity ward, staff quarters, and at least 55 staff.
According to MPs, these standards have not been met at most of the health centres.
At a newly refurbished Nambale Health Centre III in Iganga District, the MPs met similar challenges of understaffing, limited supplies and infrastructural inadequacies.
“Inadequate human resource remains a big challenge here. We also do not have enough staff accommodation in majority facilities which hinders service delivery as staffing norms of 1970 are still being considered that do not match with the increased population,” Dr Patrick Kitimbo, the acting District Health Officer, Iganga said.
In 2019, Parliament approved a loan request authorising government to borrow US$55 million (about Shs200 billion) from the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank Group to support upgrading of health centre IIs to health centre IIIs.
In 2021, Parliament again approved an additional loan request of Shs352.2 billion to complete the construction, rehabilitation and equipping of health centres.
The committee continues with oversight visits to health facilities in Mbale, Butaleja and Butebo districts.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Parliament of the Republic of Uganda.