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Turkana County bosses move to end absenteeism among health workers

Turkana health leadership raised concerns that staff absenteeism was affecting service delivery, even as the new administration was focused on improving access to health services. [iStockphoto]

Turkana County Health Department has tightened rules to tame health workers absconding from duty. The department said some health personnel had not been reporting to work, even without notifying their supervisors.

A spot check by the county's senior management led by acting Chief Officer for Health and Sanitation Dr Gilchrist Lokoel observed that four health facilities in Turkana Central and Loima sub-counties were notorious for high levels of absenteeism of staff.

An impromptu tour of the facilities by senior managers revealed the sorry state of the dispensaries with patients left unattended.

Turkana health leadership raised concerns that staff absenteeism was affecting service delivery, even as the new administration was focused on improving access to health services.

Under the new administration of Governor Jeremiah Lomorukai, the county announced plans to issue 16,000 households with National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) medical cover to access health services at designated hospitals.

The preliminary report by the health management team reveals that some facilities were managed by one nurse, who when off duty leaves the facilities in disarray. The reports also noted that most of the health facilities had been hit by staff shortages.

Dr Lokoel warned that health staff who will be found absconding from duties without permission will face disciplinary action. “For those healthcare workers that deliberately miss work, particularly on the weekends and when they are scheduled to cover over the weekends, will be facing disciplinary action,” said Dr Lokoel.

He said it was the duty of every staff to ensure residents access health services without fail. A show cause letter was issued to Naotin dispensary staff in Turkana Central who had not reported to duty by 11 am when the team made a surprise visit to the facility.

At Natuntun Dispensary with a population of 2,688 people, the staff led by Muna Ali were commended for exemplary work that demonstrated teamwork and good hygiene.

Dr assured the staff that Linda Mama, NHIF product, registration would be fast-tracked as the facility was currently conducting four to five deliveries per month. At Naipekar Dispensary, serving 5,973 people, Joyce Eyomo a Community Health Extension Worker was applauded for her dedication to work.

However, the team found that the facility had only one nurse.

Acting Director of Administration Joyce Illikwel said Natuntun and Naipekar dispensaries will get free water trucking from Lodwar. Acting Deputy Director of Health Products Dr David Moru said drugs would be delivered before end month.