New digital system reduces absenteeism in govt health facilities

Nurses in Uganda

By George Aine

In public health facilities, it is not uncommon for a health worker to arrive at their workplace as late as midday and leave before 5pm despite the designated time of those working day shift being 9am up to 5pm.

Other health workers assigned to work night and weekend shifts are also fond of the same vices due to poor supervision at both the facility and local government level. The poor patients who cannot afford private services are always left stranded.

It is upon this background, therefore, that the government through the Ministry of Health came up with the data information software used to readily monitor the absenteeism challenge.

The integrated Human Resource Information System (iHRIS), is a computerized Human Resources (HR) management tool consisting of electronic databases for storing, reporting, and analyzing that enables to design and manage a comprehensive HR strategy.

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The system, currently implemented by IntraHealth in all the 122 districts in the country, links all HR data from the time a health worker enters pre-service training in the public sector to when he or she leaves the workforce in a particular district.

Overall, the goal of the computerized iHRIS is to contribute to better management of workers to ensure availability of the right number of the workers with the right competencies, in the right place, doing the right job at the right time.

Under the system, Dr Steven Nsabiyunva the District Health officer of Kisoro district says each health facility in-charge manages the registration book where only those who arrive before 9am sign and after which it is withdrawn until evening when they are signing out.

The same health workers are mandated to sign in the book before departure in the evening at the designated time. The same applies to health workers who work night and weekend shift, Dr Nsabiyunva explains.

“The information is then entered into the software system on a monthly basis and shared with the respective District health officers and the District service commission to take action against those who either abscond or arrive late at the health facility,” Dr Nsabinyuma states.

With such information, he explains, that the system helps to track those employees who leave work before the assigned time of their shift which has put health workers under pressure to work hard and do the right thing, he says.

“About five health workers have lost their jobs since the implementation of the system in 2014. Some of them just disappear the moment they are given letters to meet the district service commission for disciplinary action,” Dr. Nsabiyunva reveals.

Consequently, absenteeism in Kisoro district fell from 25 per cent in 2014 down to 7 per cent in 2018 which has improved health service delivery in the region, he notes.

Mr. Albert Tumusiime, the Rubirizi district biostatistician says they are also able to track the training their staff goes through; “so that people know who is trained in what so that we have a balanced capacity.”

Similarly, absenteeism in the district has fallen to 8 per cent from 18 per cent in 2014 because health workers who previously moonlighted in private health facilities have since resigned their second jobs, Mr. Tumusiime notes.


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