President Museveni's decision to sack 9 of the 10 health workers of Nakawuka Health Centre III in Mpumudde village, Wakiso district has not gone well with the opposition.
Museveni, on Wednesday this week demanded the immediate sacking of the health workers during an impromptu visit to the facility. The directive was based on complaints of poor service delivery, absenteeism and lack of drugs at the center raised by area residents.
Now, some opposition MPs have demanded for the immediate reinstatement of the sacked medical workers. While the move was applauded by the residents, the Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Winnie Kiiza notes that this was a political move aimed at exciting the electorate, instead of addressing the wider concerns affecting the health sector.
Kiiza cites low pay for workers, drug stock outs and lack of accommodation for health personnel. Kiiza says the indictment is on government and the district officials who supervise the health sector, for failing to play their role in ensuring the institutions are well equipped with manpower and medicine.
“If all Ugandans who are failing to access health services in their areas were to act like President Museveni, actually the president with his entire cabinet would all have been paraded and thrown out of office. Because what happened in Nakawuka is a living testimony of what is happening country wide. We see the president chasing away poor nurses, who are poorly paid, working under hard conditions. But the president disregards the fact that these health workers had an immediate supervisor and that by sending away the health workers maybe he should have first consulted with the immediate supervisor whether there were concerns as to why these people are not doing what they are supposed to do”.
The shadow minister for Public Service Herbert Ariko questioned why the Health Service Commission and District Service Commission, under which the workers fall, were not tasked to first investigate the matter before the dismissal was effected.
“Whereas public officers may work at the leisure of the chief executive that is HE the president, the fact that government of Uganda has a contract with public officers means that every worker should be treated with dignity. That what is enshrined in the code of conduct and regulations in which public officer operate must at all times be followed. In this case, disciplinary procedure in the standing order should have required that if it is a case of absenteeism, there must have been somebody responsible. Were these officers written to? Were there warnings given to them? I certainly know there wasn’t any. Secondly, the standing orders emphasise that the law of natural justice must be followed at all times when public officers are disciplined”.
Shadow minister for Health Julius Ochen says a team from the shadow cabinet will visit the health center next week to offer the health workers a hearing before tabling the matter in parliament.
“We shall not sit back to watch anything being taken anything contrary to the provisions of the laws of our country being allowed to continue. And, we are going to go further than this by making time next week. Next week I will be going to the ground in particular Wakiso district to check on the health facilities and also to interact with these health workers before I emerge on the floor of parliament to make a proper statement in respect to the action that was taken”
President Museveni directed the Health Service Commission in consultation with the Health ministry to send a new team of workers to the health center. Currently, army medics have been deployed at the facility to offer treatment to the patients.