Residents seeking health services in Palabek Ogili Health Center III in Lamwo district have been left in despair as health workers are swayed away by humanitarian organizations operating in refugee camps.
Lamwo district is hosting more than 34,000 South Sudanese refugees who have settled on at least 50 square kilometres of land since April 2018. Over 40 humanitarian organizations are also operating in the district. These include the United Nations – UN agencies and local and international Not for profit Organizations involved in humanitarian work.
But health workers have reportedly abandoned their jobs for better salary offers by humanitarian agencies. According to the district authorities, the payments by humanitarian agencies are almost ten times higher than their earnings at the local health facility.
John Lutara the Chairperson Palabek Ogili Health Unit Management Unit told this publication that every morning, humanitarian agencies transport staff from the health centre to the camps, leaving the health facility with no one to attend the multitude of patients who flock the hospital on a daily basis. The health facility has a catchment of over 7,600 people.
Lutara says that patients are turned away without medical attention due to the absence of health workers.
Lamwo Resident District Commissioner James Nabinson Kidega confirms that he also found several patients abandoned and the wards visibly littered with dirt and broken equipment during an impromptu visit to Palabek Ogili Health Centre III.
Kidega said he would summon the in-charge of the Health Centre to record a statement explaining why he’s continually absent from duty. Kidega notes that such an act tantamount to gross negligence and abuse of office.
Meanwhile, the District Health Officer of the district Dr Charles Oyoo refuted the claims. Dr Oyoo explains that in its operation, the district takes care of both host communities and the refugees.
“We have not lost any health workers to the settlement facilities. The refugees contribute to the major health burden in our district and we can’t leave them out as that has an effect on our performance as the health sector,” Dr Oyoo further explained.