Rampant absenteeism among health workers especially in government health facilities had for long denied the public utilization of health services by preventing them from accessing the required health care by increasing the costs of health services leading to mistrust in the entire health system.
It also impacted on the quality of services by increasing the volume of work for those who would be present, low morale and some would adopt negative practices as they were forced to perform tasks for which they were unqualified.
This made the government through the Ministry of Health to introduce the Automated Attendance Analysis in 2016 as a way to curb absenteeism and manage performance among the heath workers.
By 2018 it had been rolled out in all districts and to date most of them are using it to track attendance to duty by heath workers and to generate duty attendance report which is being used to take administrative and human resource management decisions including salary payment based on number of days worked.
Since its inception, a lot of improvement especially in attendance and performance among the heath workers has been witnessed.
According to the annual Health Sector Performance Report 2017/2018, there has been a reduction in absenteeism percentages in most districts especially in bigger government health facilities.
“By March 2018, the absenteeism without authority had reduced from an average 10 per cent same time in April 2017 to 9 per cent. In addition, absenteeism (with or without approval) reduced from 42 per cent in 2017 to 22 per cent in 2018,” part of the report reads..
In addition to the AAA, the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit (PMDU) for Health established an Inter-Ministerial Committee composed of Ministry of Public Service, Ministry of Labour Gender and Culture, Ministry of Health and Partners – Intra health & Health Monitoring Unit (HMU) to work together to achieve 100 per cent attendance in 20 districts of Tororo, Serere, Soroti, Mbale, Bulambuli, Sironko, Kapchorwa, Kween, Bukwo, Pallisa, Buyende, Bugiri, Kayunga, Namutumba, Luuka, Mayuge, Buvuma, Bududa, Manafwa and Bulambuli in Eastern Uganda.
Among other strategies, the committee agreed to do daily attendance recording, routine tracking and periodic reporting by the PMDU, enforcing sanctions and rewards with appropriate actions taken by district Local Governments and Strengthening leadership and management at district and health facility levels.
Because of this strategy improvement has been reported over time with attendance rising from 79 per cent in January 2017 to 87 per cent in May 2018.
However, Dr Diana Atwine the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health says that despite the reduction in cases of absenteeism among heath works a lot more needs to be done to bring it to an end.
“Although the problem of absenteeism among health workers has tremendously reduced, it is still present and hence the need to strengthen the enforcement of these rules and regulations so that it can be completely whipped out,” she says.