Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng has asked District Health Officers to re-think and double their commitment at work if they are to transform Uganda’s health sector.
Dr Aceng told the DHOs to always coordinate with their juniors since they are the people on the ground.
This during a retreat aimed at improving the performance of DHOs as they champion the stewardship of health service delivery in their respective districts, Ministry of Health with the support of Governance, Accountability Participation and Performance (GAPP) program in Entebbe.
The retreat was attended by over 120 DHOs, top managers of the Ministry of Health and some directors of Regional Referral hospitals at which the Ministry’s management and the senior district health leaders held a candid and cordial discussion on the various challenges affecting health service delivery in the country and also jointly discussed possible solutions.
However, Aceng told them that challenges may not cease to occur but loving what they do will help them to see more results.
“We need to see each challenge as a chance of us to perfect our work, we can only do this if we love our job as health professionals because the country lies in our hands,” said Aceng.
Dr Diana Atwine, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health also appealed to DHOs to take patients as their central focus if they are to address the challenges facing the sector as highlighted in the client satisfaction survey report 2018.
“Let’s also focus on accountability of finances, medicines as well putting more emphasis on support supervision. If we do this we shall have set an example to other ministries,” she said.
The retreat ended with some recommendations that the minister promised to work upon, including but not limited to the need to streamline the reporting line of the DHOs as opposed to serving two masters.
An agreement was unanimously reached that a Cabinet paper on re-centralization be concluded and submitted to Cabinet. Similarly, the leaders concluded that senior health leaders who fall under Public Service salary scales of private should be centralized back to the Ministry of Health in a phased manner.
Filling vacant staff positions at the district health office (DHT) and Capacity building for health facility managers in leadership and management, the retreat recommended to fix weak leadership and management.
To bring an end to inadequate performance, the senior health leaders chose to develop result areas with measurable outputs for DHOs and with a focus on accountability for results.
To address weak monitoring and evaluation, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Public Service have been tasked to strengthen central and Regional Referral Hospitals’ support to the districts.
On Medical equipment, the retreat delegates suggested that an inventory of obsolete medical equipment be compiled and submitted to Ministry to guide disposal of obsolete equipment like beds, x-rays and cars but should follow PPDA guidelines.
Furthermore, on the lack of medical equipment, the leaders recommended the creation of a medical credit line at the National Medical Stores to enable timely replacement.
On addressing the current salary disparities, the retreat recommended that the political leadership at Ministry of Health fast-tracks the salary enhancement of District Health teams and Ministry of Health officials through Parliament for consideration in the next financial year 2019/2020.
For proper coordination, it was recommended that districts should first consult Ministry of Health before signing Memorandum of Understanding (MOUs) with development partners and that a coordination office is created within the Ministry of Health structure.