Remember those times when a relative is sick and you would just have to block a whole day to take them to the health center? Maybe this has happened multiple times. A Ugandan may ask themselves why there is always a long wait or limited drugs. One might think it’s how things are done at these facilities: maybe the person before you is taking long. But accepting a day wasted at a health centre doesn’t always need to be the outcome.
For the past four months, SEMA has been collecting citizen feedback at KCCA health centers around Kampala and presenting feedback from citizens back to the doctors in charge. During the first month of data collection, a lot of issues were being brought up by visiting patients, ranging from long waiting times, scarcity of medicine to rude staff. These issues were discussed with the health center staff, including how such problems may occur or be prevented. We found out that most of the health workers were not used to a feedback system. Having someone to always take note of the service delivery system was new and helped them to focus on what needed to improve. In many cases, commitments were made by the doctors in charge to improve specific aspects of the services. This resulted in a positive change in the next months.
“I didn’t know that some of these things are happening in my health center but I am happy that these reports have brought it to my attention.” – Sister in charge at Kisenyi Health Center
From the constant discussions and feedback sharing, the in-charges at the health centers started to improve on the way they deliver services at the health centers. For example, the Doctor in charge at Kitebi Health Center, started reaching out to the poorly performing departments and also got a new staff member to speed up the work at the pharmacy. And during this time, citizens have started to notice changes at these health centers.
“I have been coming to this health center for a while now, but I have noticed that the staff are no longer rude because they know that SEMA will be asking us about the service delivery.” – Citizen visiting Kawaala Health Center
An element of competition across the different departments at the health centers also spiked improvements. As one doctor at Kisugu health centre says: “Whenever the monthly reports are delivered, I always want to see how my health center is performing. I am happy that we have been the best for the past three months and I wouldn’t want us to drop, so everytime I work on my patients I ensure that I do my best. I know that at the end of the month, the results will be wonderful.”
As a result, patients are getting better quality services and are complaining less about bad services. At 83% of health centres where SEMA is working, we have measured an increase in satisfaction of over 8% in 4 months, and in the same period a decrease in waiting times of 20%.
From this experience, we learn that citizens have a lot to say about their experience at health centres. But there needs to be someone to share their views with and to take those back to the centre’s doctor’s in charge. Through SEMA, this is made possible at health centres in Kampala, and it leads to actual improvements of the services. So on your next visit to a health facility in Uganda, don’t forget to leave your feedback through one of our platforms.
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