RURAL HEALTH WORKER'S VOICES

YOUR VOICE MATTERS IN INCREASING ACCESS TO QUALITY HEALTHCARE

It was a usual day on the ward in the rural facility I work in (kapelebyong Rural Health Center,in north eastern Uganda), as I was doing a ward round. Like other normal days it is characterised by children having malaria and usually I review them to make sure the dosages are right and they receive the right treatment.

Everything in the Pearl of Africa has become politicized including issues that are a matter of life and death.

When one hears of a mother dying while giving birth they cry out to the government for help.

As a public health specialist, my work continues to improve the lives of the rural population. We utilize radio, community distributors and edutainment to health educate the masses and engage in advocacy for better health systems.

However, our efforts are still a drop in the ocean and the rural health system is faced with a number of challenges including; inadequate supply of drugs, fewer staffs, brain drainage, drug stockouts and long distances to the health centers.

The government sends only 30% of the total funding requirements for the health facilities leaving them struggling to meet their day to day operational needs.

There many challenges facing the rural healthcare system and these include; limited staffing that in turn leads to work overload, lack of motivation of the healthcare workers in hard to reach areas, for example, health workers sharing toilets with communities, no water sources within a walkable distance to the health facilities. In addition, constant drug stock-outs that insinuate accusations of theft from the public to the health workers.

Furthermore, there is inadequate moral support from political leaders. Most of the political leaders take in what their voters say as the gospel truth to protect their votes thus not making strides to improve the health system.

Although the government is trying to fund rural health centers so that they can provide good quality services, setting up and renovating infrastructure, much still needs to be done by the stakeholders and in-charges of health centers.

The Ugandan Rural health care is dissatisfying to both the patients and the health workers. This is because the patient comes in need of a service and rarely gets it in its recommended full package. Most health care centers have health workers who are skilled but lack equipment to give that service which leads to unnecessary referrals and sometimes uncalled for deaths.

For example; I received a mother who came with a baby that had severe pneumonia. I couldn't give them the service because they were no medications available. Therefore, I had to refer this poor mother who went crying because she couldn't afford transport to another bigger hospital.

The rural health care system remains wanting now more than ever; due to a triad of issues like abject poverty, limited decision-making capacity and increase in reckless behaviour especially sexual promiscuity among youth.  There is a lack of access to the limited health facilities, which also have limited supplies and personnel.

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