Greed Over Health: Dokolo health workers Exploit Government TB Drugs for Personal Gain, TOPOWA and Ekyoto Report Exposes.

By Ouni Jaspher 

Dokolo: The recently released TOPOWA and Ekyoto report has shed light on the 21 key points that are affecting the people of Agwata sub county and Agwata town council in Dokolo district at grassroot level. 

TOPOWA and Ekyoto is an informal meeting under Strengthening citizen’s participation in elections (SCENE) Program which is being implemented by Lango civil society network in districts of Dokolo, Alebtong, Kole, Lira district and Lira city to improve Accountability and responses of government institutions among others.

Lango civil society network program manager James Achar while presenting the report on Wednesday at Dokolo district council Hall noted that among these challenges, the health sector stands out as one of the most pressing issues.

One of the alarming findings in the report is the sale of government-provided TB drugs in private clinics for 40,000 shillings. 

According to Achar this not only increases the financial burden on community members seeking treatment, but it also raises concerns about the management and distribution of essential medicines. 

Additionally, it was noted that government health centers do not provide injectable drugs and only offer coartem, leaving patients with limited treatment options.

The report also highlights issues with the availability and reliability of health services.

Health staff were found to report for duty as late as 10 o’clock in the morning and leave as early as 12 o’clock in the afternoon, resulting in a shortened working day and reduced access to healthcare for the community.

Furthermore, it was noted that no health services are provided on weekends and public holidays, leaving community members without access to medical care during emergencies.

In addition to these challenges, the report also exposes the unethical practices of health center staff. It was reported that some staff members assign their roles to support staff, who may not have the necessary qualifications or training. 

Moreover, there is selective distribution of mama kits, with only family members and friends of health center staff being the beneficiaries. 

This detrimental behavior undermines the trust and confidence of the community in their healthcare providers.

However, there is also a glimmer of hope in the report, as it highlights improved health seeking behaviors among women due to increased community sensitization. This shows that with proper education and awareness, positive changes can be achieved.

Aside from the health sector, the report also sheds light on other pressing issues such as corruption in the education sector. The kickback of UPE money to district officials is a concerning revelation that highlights the need for better accountability and transparency in the management of funds. 

Additionally, the report found that parish chiefs are not visible in the community and there is a lack of extension services being provided. Poor road network and LC1s not performing their duties due to fear of losing their jobs are some of the other challenges mentioned in the report.

In his statement Tonny Obel, the Agwata town council chairperson clarified that it is a government policy to upgrade Health center IIs, and his town council is committed to implementing this policy. 

One of the primary duties of district councilors, including Alex Owera who represents the people of Agwata town council, is to advocate for their communities’ needs. 

However, Owera points out that calling for meetings can be a challenge. Electorates often demand sitting allowances, which puts a strain on the council’s limited budget.

Despite this, Owera and his colleagues continue to work tirelessly to fulfill their responsibilities.

Santos Okuja, a councilor representing the people of Kangai town council and the secretary for health and education in Dokolo, gave an update on the district’s education sector. 

He revealed that there are eight community schools in Dokolo, and the district has submitted a request to the Ministry of Education for coding. 

Okuja also highlighted a concerning issue in the district’s health sector. 

“In the 2022/2023 financial year, it was discovered that some health workers were neglecting their duties and passing them on to support staff” Okuja said.

He also encouraged locals to report any misconduct, such as the sale of TB drugs, to the authorities.

“One of the factors contributing to the challenges faced in the district’s health sector is the delayed supply of drugs from the government” he said.

Okuja believes that this issue needs to be addressed urgently to ensure that health facilities have the necessary resources to provide adequate healthcare to the community.

Another councilor, Tonny Odongo, raised the issue of community members misusing government property likes solar systems, houses, and roads, among others. 

He called on the government to address this matter and ensure that public resources are used for their intended purposes. 

He also urged parliament to revise the laws and policies governing the operations of foundation bodies in schools, as their interference can pose challenges to the education system.

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