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Incentives to Health Workers Boost Maternal Health Services :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Incentives to Health Workers Boost Maternal Health Services

The incentives follow persistent complaints against health workers, some of whom would report to work as late as 11am, while others would not show up throughout the day leaving patients especially pregnant women stranded at various health facilities.

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Incentives to health workers in rural areas are bearing fruits in Kyenjojo district.  

The incentives were introduced in 2014 by Baylor Uganda under the Saving Mothers Giving Life-SMGL programme aimed at reducing avoidable maternal deaths in the two districts of Kabarole and Kyenjojo.

It followed persistent complaints against health workers, some of whom would report to work as late as 11am, while others would not show up throughout the day leaving patients especially pregnant women stranded at various health facilities. 

Some of the incentives included construction of staff houses near the facilities, refresher training, payment of transport allowances to health workers and paying an additional 40,000 Shillings to a midwife who attends and successfully helps a mother deliver. 

Two years later, the incentives have yielded some results.

Gerald Byenkya, the in-charge of Mukunyu Health Centre III in Kyenjojo district says that the motivations have given the health workers morale to perform their work. He explains that the number of women giving birth and seeking antenatal services at the facility has increased due to the availability of health workers. 

Byenkya says that last year, 350 women gave birth at the health centre unlike in the past when the number was less than 50.

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Vincent Mugenyi, the in-charge Rugombe Health Centre III, says that with increased allowances and top-ups, the health workers' behaviours have changed for the better. He explains that in the past, the workers deliberately absconded from duty due to low pay and were often rude to patients which affected delivery of health services. 

Molly Tuhaise, a health worker at Rugombe Health Centre and a beneficiary of the incentive, says that in the past it was difficult to respond to emergencies at night because her home was far away from the facility. She says that after the construction of a staff house, she is able to attend to patients at any time of the night. 

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Nathan Kamukama, a resident of Rugombe welcomes the incentives. He says that health workers attended to his wife during and after pregnancy which prevented perinatal and maternal complications.

Kamukama however says that the incentives are not enough to motivate health workers. He explains that there is need to improve the infrastructure in health facilities and also make drugs available.

Parliament has in the past appealed to the government to appreciate and give incentives to health workers especially those working in hard-to-reach areas.  The legislators note that inadequate and ill-motivated human resource is a key constraint to the health sector.

In 2014, a Word Bank report revealed that although Uganda has reduced maternal deaths and child mortality by half, delivery of quality health services remains weak due to chronic absenteeism of health workers.

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