The state minister for general duties in the health ministry, Sarah Kataike, on February 19, 2013, told Parliament that over 4,000 health workers had turned down government appointments at health centre IIIs and IVs.
The reasons for this, she went on, were; poor remuneration, lack of accommodation and poor working conditions. Whereas some medical workers whom New Vision talked to agree with some of the reasons the minister gave, others say there is a lot more than the minister’s arguments. This, perhaps, explains why some districts like Kitgum have spent years without a district health officer.
Appearing before the Parliamentary Committee on Health, Kataike said: “As of February 15, only 1,393 health workers had reported for duty out of the 10,231 vacancies advertised. A total of 5,713 health workers were offered jobs, so we still have 4,518 jobs to fill.”
Asked what challenges she faced during the recruitment process, she was quoted as saying: “Medical officers did not respond to the advert probably because they don’t want to live in villages.” She also expressed fear that the health workers, who report for duty may run away or not turn up due to lack of accommodation.
The minister says last August, the Government advertised 10,231 vacancies for health workers in 111 districts, but 24 anaesthetic assistants applied, out of the 263 needed and 30 ophthalmic clinical officers applied out of 159 required.
A total of 49 applied for the public health vacancies out of 117 needed, 119 theatre assistants applied out of 228 jobs advertised and 119 medical officers applied out of 152 needed. A total of 76 anaesthetic officers applied out of 182 needed.
How many positions are vacant?
Dr. Asuman Lukwago, the health ministry permanent secretary told New Vision that they carried out an assessment and found that 10,000 health workers’ positions were vacant. He said their target in the ongoing recruitment is to fill 6,170 positions, although only 5,713 posts have so far been filled.