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Do we need medical officers in lower health facilities in Uganda?

(Last Updated On: 1 August 2022)

I really don’t have any problem with medical officers occupying health centre IIIs, IIs or even One.


Opinion | Naggujja Lydia

Hoima, August 1, 2022: There’s an ongoing campaign to create jobs for the many Ugandan doctors who have no jobs. Personally, I really don’t have any problem with medical officers occupying health centre IIIs, IIs or even One.

But, the question is. Have they (the government) fulfilled the recommended staffing norms in all the higher health facilities from health centre IVs and above?

What is the medical officer doctor-patient ratio at Kawempe, Kiruddu, Mulago, Mbarara, Jinja, and Gulu? Are these hospitals having the recommended number of medical officers?

You find one doctor at Kawempe having an obligation to check and review all the mothers on a particular ward. Senior health officers and junior health officers go through a lot because they are the ones who have to suffer and bridge all these gaps.

Let us first make those hospitals the state of the art hospitals then we can zero down to health centre IIIs and below.

It will be a waste of human resources if medical officers are placed in lower facilities yet the major hospitals don’t have enough.

There’s a health centre IV I know, the theatre is there, but it’s not functional. The reasons given include: the building is not fit to be a theatre. But even the medical officer who is there as in charge, most of the time is doing administration work.

So, does that mean that even when these medical officers are sent down to these lower facilities they will do clinical work, not administration roles as they are trying to blindfold us? Or they will employ two per facility?

One to take up the administration roles than the other clinical work?

There are still a lot of gaps in the health sector but as if the government is only listening to the medical officers.

To our policymakers, it’s not about creating jobs for medical officers or relatives, but making policies that will help the health sector grow. Mulago is not the best. Some of you don’t even want to step there when you are sick.

Make things right. People are tired of running to neighbourhood countries for care and treatment. You have all the resources to have better health systems, but the greed is too much.

Medical officers in lower facilities at this particular moment in time is not an appropriate decision. Kindly go back to your decision-making tables and think again. There’s a lot you need to change first in the higher levels of health facilities than send officers to centre IIIs.

The other option can be, to let the government first improve the infrastructures, ensure all the resources are there, and some degree of complex technology in the labs and radiology: like the CBC machine and X- Rays respectively.

Possibly with that, we can have our medical officers descend to such levels.

The writer is a Concerned BScN nurse.

One thought on “Do we need medical officers in lower health facilities in Uganda?

  1. Why are we only talking about Medical Officers? Do they work alone? Absolutely No. There is always a ratio of Doctors to other staff e.g You can’t have a health center III with a Medical Officer (M.O) but having one laboratory technician or one laboratory assistant and 2 nurses.
    The staffing should be well balanced with no understaffing of certain cadres. And all cadres are equally facing un-employment. Unless we are only focusing at helping Medical Officers only. Or else this looks like a selfish interest of Medical Officers who are ruling over the Ministry of Health since they have filled all the managerial positions such as DHOs, Hospital Directors, Commissioners, Director General, Permanent Secretary, and Minister of Health. Hence other health workers have no voice since they can’t sit at decision making table.

    Secondly, what is an M.O going to do at Health Center III when there is no theater? This means the M.O will be referring patients to hospitals which have theater. And a midwife or Clinical Officer can also perfectly do that role. Let the government first construct theaters at Health Center III and put the necessary equipment, then M.O can finally be placed at H/C III.

    Lastly, let the staffing gaps be filled from top to bottom, starting with Mulago NRH, then regional referral hospitals, district hospitals, H/C IV and finally we shall reach at Health Center III.

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