The management committee of Patongo Health Center three in Agago district is sweating after the District Health Inspector issued a two week’s ultimatum to construct sanitary facilities or the health center is closed. The health centre that serves more than 10,000 patients lack sanitary facilities and an incinerator to burn medical waste. As a result, the Agago District Health Inspection Department issued a two week’s ultimatum on December 19th to the management committee of Patongo Health Center three to construct the sanitary facilities or have it closed.
Daniel Okello, the LC 3 chairperson of Patongo town council, who also chairs the management committee, acknowledges receipt of the letter. Okello says it is true that the health center lacks the basic sanitary facilities, adding that they are saddened by the threat of closure. He says that the health center offers services to people living with HIV/ AIDS and its closure will be a big blow to the patients;
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Okello blames the mess on decentralization. He explains that despite the fact that decentralization allows the town council to put up such structures, the whole process must be sanctioned by the district procurement team. He says the town council officials are planning to engage the district leadership to get a solution before it is too late.
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The impending closure of Patongo Health Center three has drawn anger from residents of Patongo Town Council. Mary Akello, a neighbor to the health center says that it will be unfortunate if the health center is closed. Akello says that traveling to Kalongo hospital is expensive for them and the only option is Patong Health Center Three. She has challenged the district leadership to construct the sanitary facilities instead of threatening to close it. Robert Omona, another resident in the town council challenges the district health inspector to blame the district health department instead of threatening the health center management team.
He says that the money for construction is budgeted by the district health officer not health centres. The staff of the health centre has refused to speak to the media for fear of being reprimanded by the authorities. Dr Emmanuel Otto, the district medical officer has not yet commented as he was away from his office when our reporter went there. Attempts to contact him through the phone were unsuccessful as his known mobile number was switched off.