NA Health Committee Unearths Challenges Confronting Health Facilities

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By: Kebba AF Touray

The Legislative Select Committee on Health, has in its report on its visit to health facilities across the country, unearthed the challenges confronting health facilities in particular and the sector in general. The Committee unveiled these challenges in its report on its oversight visit to health facilities across the country from the 29th June to 6th July 2022.

Tabling the report on behalf of the Committee Chairperson, Hon. Abdoulie Cessay, told his colleagues that the Committee embarked on the visit with the objective of collecting information on what healthcare institutions do in the regions; the challenges they face, and the measures to be taken to address them. The visit he said also aimed to assess disaster hot spots, the level of preparedness of the NDMA and all the mitigating measures put in place. He disclosed that the challenges confronting health facilities are inadequate budgets.

“BI Fund revenues are paid to a consolidated central reserve account of the government. However, it is difficult to be accessed by health facilities that collect it and even by the Ministry of Health,” he said. He cited that some of the challenges confronting the facilities include inadequate human resources particularly nurses and midwives; poor ambulance services; and inadequate and poor condition of staff quarters. He cited the lack of complete renovation of the Kuntaur Minor Health center and lack of space to accommodate patients especially during the peak of the malaria season; inadequate drugs and medical supplies; lack of a functioning laboratory and inadequate test kits, and lack of a functioning theatre as some of the main challenges faced at most of these facilities. He however highlighted that the successes registered by these facilities during the review period includes increase in number of deliveries compared to last year and an additional labour ward being constructed (Faji Kunda Hospital).

“The committee also observed limited in some of the facilities, limited space in both postnatal and infant wards, to accommodate the increasing demand for admission resulting in some patients not being admitted, and limited supply of water, where some facilities have whilst others do not,” he said. He said some facilities such as Ndemban are challenged with not having a staff room, and inadequate budget and consumables.

“The committee recommended for the Health Ministry to post more qualified and specialized doctors in all the regions, and ensure regular fuel supply and maintenance for all community ambulances in the regions. The committee recommendded the scaling up on the number of nurses in the regions and with motivation packages,” he said. He added that the Committee also recommended building good accommodation for both RHD and facilities for staff in all regions; ‘Riders for Health’ to replace the old ambulances in the regions; and the Regional Health Directorate to be separated from the Essau District Hospital to allow expansion for both institutions. The Committee he said further recommended that the Health Ministry posts more trained nurses, midwives and laboratory personnel to the regions, reproductive and child health clinics to be provided with new ambulances and vehicles for trekking.

“The Committee also recommended for the Health Ministry to ensure drug supply to all regions, good retention allowance for those willing to go to regions as a motivation package and regular allocation of imprest for the operation of the regional offices, and cash power for regional staff,” he told members.