Covid-19: MOH to Hire 700 Health Workers

Okong says if approved, the number of health worker stock to handle the viral respiratory disease will rise up to over a thousand since they had highest slightly more than 300 personnel during the first wave of infection last year.

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The government plans to hire up to 700 health workers to handle COVID-19 cases at the various public health facilities across the country.

Prof. Pius Okong, the Chairperson of the Health Service Commission says that the Ministry of Health has already written to the Ministry of Public Service requesting clearance to fill the gap.

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Okong says if approved, the number of health workers to handle patients will rise to over a thousand since they had hired slightly more than 300 personnel during the first wave of infection.  

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However Dr Diana Atwiine, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health had issued an appeal to health workers through the Uganda Medical Association (UMA) for health workers that are not employed by the government to come in and volunteer.

Asked about how far this appeal has gone, Dr Muhereza Mukuzi, the UMA General Secretary said while they acknowledge the huge need, it was a tough call for health workers since even as they volunteer, they need lunch allowances, transport and Personal Protective Equipment which of late has been scarce even for health workers that are paid.

Mukuzi said while they considered volunteerism, the government was non-committal on whether they would avail them what they need to work effectively such as protective gear and a living allowance.

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Mukuzi urges the government to urgently tackle the issue of health workers, especially that the recommended number of health worker to patient ratios is appalling and doctors are being overworked.

He says for instance in the general ward where patients may not need a lot of attention, the ideal would be to have one health worker per 20 patients. Five patients in the High Dependency Unit (HDU) should be taken care of by two doctors whereas, in the Intensive Care Unit, there should a health worker per patient, Mukuzi says.

He was sceptical though that the government can fill these vacant positions, especially that many hospitals across the country have been operating without key specialists and the required health worker stock even under normal circumstances.

Currently, however, at Mulago Specialized National Referral Hospital which also houses the highest number of COVID-19 admissions, Dr Baterena Byarugaba the Executive Director says they were given 150 health workers last year during the first pandemic.

With the crisis at its highest now, he says they need a boast of about 200 other health workers if they are to follow the guidelines of rotating the health workers in shifts of not working for more than four hours each day.        


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