According to Mr Henry Lwigale, the Lira Hospital principal administrator, the facility has only nine doctors instead of the required 39.
Lira Regional Referral Hospital is facing a crisis as it has only nine doctors offering medical care to more than 500 patients per day. According to the principal administrator, Mr Henry Lwigale, the hospital requires 39 doctors. “It means that we cannot provide some specialised services because the clinicians are not there,” Mr Lwigale said on Wednesday.
Being one of the only two regional referral hospital in northern Uganda, many patients are stranded at the hospital. Some are forced to travel several kilometres to Gulu Referral Hospital for specialised treatment. “That situation has made service delivery a bit difficult because some health facilities are overworked while others are redundant,” he said.
The District Health Committee chairperson, Mr Moses Ogwang Adonyo, said due to the shortage of health professionals, sometimes patients are not attended to on weekends.
“They (health workers) work only on week days; when a patient reaches the health facility you have to wait up to Monday but it is not even guaranteed that when it reopens on Monday, you will get help,” Mr Ogwang said.
“The few doctors cannot do much to help us in case of an emergency. I took my wife to the hospital in September last year but unfortunately she died before seeing a doctor since it was a weekend,” said Mr Denis Obang, a resident of Adyel Kisubi, Lira Municipality.
Lira Resident District Commissioner Susan Akany confirmed the challenges the hospital is grappling with.
Ms Akany said recently she got information that some babies died at the hospital shortly after they were borne. She blamed the incident on the crippled healthcare system. “Power went off all of a sudden and by the time they could start a generator, the babies were already dead,” the RDC said, without offering details of date of the incident and the exact figure of the victims.
Although the government this month increased the pay for doctors from Shs1.2 million to Shs2.5 million, Mr Lwigale attributes the challenges the hospital is facing to poor pay for medical workers. “The vacancies are there, doctors are outside there without work but they are not responding to adverts calling for doctors.”
Lira hospital, serves eight districts of Lango sub-region. With a capacity of 254 beds, it is designated as one of the 15 internship hospitals in the country where graduates from medical schools can serve one-year internships under the supervision of qualified specialists and consultants.