By John Semakula
Doctors in health centre IVs will at the end of October walk to the banks smiling while their counterparts in hospitals stay calm.
Government last month increased the salaries for Health Centre IV doctors from sh960,000 to sh2.5m, putting them at the same salary levels with consultants in Mulago Hospital.
Other health workers and doctors in hospitals were promised similar increment in the next financial year.
Ministry of Health permanent secretary, Dr. Asuman Lukwago told Saturday Vision that the increase was intended to attract doctors to the health centre IVs.
“We have been advertising jobs for doctors at health centre IVs and they were not responding. Doctors preferred to volunteer at Mulago Hospital than taking up jobs upcountry,” Lukwago said.
“As a result of the failure to get doctors to work in health centre IVs, patients have been flocking hospitals, like Mulago and Kawolo, hence congesting them.”
But the move has received criticism from doctors who believe the increase for only one section of health workers will worsen the situation.
Dr. Joshua Kiberu, the in-charge of Kawolo Hospital in Buikwe district said it will not help to improve the morale of health workers and plight of patients.
“The workload is at the hospitals, not at health centre IVs. What was the criterion used to give the doctors an increment at the expense of others.” Kiberu added; “Nobody with the knowledge of human resource would endorse such an increment. Doctors at health centre IVs do not work alone. They work with nurses and mid-wives, whose salaries were not increased.”
Dr. Anthony Konde of Mukono Health Centre IV, one of the beneficiaries of the increase, said he expected any change to cut across board.
“But it is the professional bodies which are supposed to lobby for us. I believe they are still doing their part to ensure that everyone gets an increment,” Konde said. “Otherwise, we have not yet received any circular from the Ministry of Public Service about the increment.” he added.
Dr. Samuel Lyomoki a member of the parliamentary health committee, referred to the increment as a beacon of hope for all the health workers.
“For the last 10-years, Parliament has been asking the executive to increase the salaries of health workers. This time we have got an enhancement. All the health workers should welcome the move,” Lyomoki said.
He explained that it was the decision of the committee to enhance the salaries of the doctors at health centre IVs.
“It was an emergency move. Mothers were dying in big numbers during labour because there are no doctors in the health centre IVs. We would advertise jobs and they would not respond, so we came up with that proposal to attract and retain them.”
Lyomoki added that the salary increment is part of the big strategy to improve service delivery in the health sector.
“Apart from addressing the issue of human resource, other areas of focus in the sector are proper supervision and Primary Health Care (PHC),” he said
Lyomoki said putting emphasis on the three areas would reduce on the number of people seeking services in the health centre.
Lukwago said that there were 233 vacancies for doctors at the 170 health centre IVs across the country.
He said the ministry had passed information to the chief administrative officers, asking them to send the number of vacancies in their districts.
Lukwago said the Government wants two doctors for each health centre IV in the constituency.
“That is why we are increasing the number of doctors for all health center IVs such that when one is absent, another one has to be around,” he said.
Asked why the salaries of nurses and midwives at health center IVs were not increased, Lukwago said health workers do not have the same workload.
“If you have 10 children who do not have shoes and your resource base is fixed, do you address the problem at once? You buy the shoes in phases,” he added.
“If you have 10 children who do not have shoes and your resource base is fixed, do you address the problem at once? You buy the shoes in phases,” Lukwago said.
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