Gashumba in parliament over understaffed hospitals

Dr Gashumba will appear before the parliamentary Standing Committee on Social Affairs on Wednesday to answer questions related to understaffing in hospitals. / Photo: Emmanuel Kwizera.

The Minister for Health, Dr Diane Gashumba, is expected to appear before the parliamentary Social Affairs standing committee, on Wednesday, February 5 to respond to queries relating to measures in place to increase the number of staff in hospitals across the country.

Gashumba joins other senior and junior government officials who have since late last month been appearing before this committee to respond to concerns raised by the National Public Service Commission in its 2018/2019 annual report.

The National Public Service Commission is mandated with ensuring that laws governing public service recruitment and administration are adhered to and put into effect by all government institutions.

At the meeting, Gashumba will explain questions related to a review conducted in 42 hospitals of the country’s 45 hospitals where a total of 3,596 positions (equivalent to 49.3 per cent) out of 7,290 were found vacant.

District hospitals which receive the biggest number of patients on a daily basis are the most understaffed. Of the 6,048 positions, only 2,963 positions were filled, leaving almost double vacant.

For instance, Kibungo, Ruhengeri and Kibuye referral hospitals which collectively allocated 624 staff vacancies collectively, only 433 of these are filled. Of these, Kibungo referral hospital is the most understaffed with only 91 positions out of 208 filled.

At the provincial level, the commission pointed out Bushenge, Ruhango and Rwamagana hospitals which collectively are allocated 618 positions collectively, only 298 positions are filled. Of these, Bushenge hospital, which was allocated 206 positions has only filled 73.

Unqualified medical staff

While the numbers above refer to hospital staff collectively, Gashumba is also expected to explain to the lawmakers why almost 50 staff are on the government payroll illegally.

A document seen by The New Times indicates that Gashumba will explain how some of these staff members were on the list without going through the proper recruitment channels, without qualifications, without producing proof of their education, and others are redundant and have not been temporarily laid off as stipulated in the law.

The Director of Media Relations at Rwanda Biomedical Centre, Julien Niyingabira, confirmed the meeting, telling this publication that the meeting was expected to shed light on the progress made in that area.

“Indeed, the Minister is expected to appear in parliament as part of her mandate to answer any questions that the honourable members of parliament may have. This is not something unusual because she like other cabinet members works hand in hand with the members on a day to today basis,” he said.

The Vice President of the Social Affairs Committee Frank Habineza told The New Times that the summons are not unusual and are part of the parliament’s core duties to ensure that the government implements its policies.

“This is what we mean when we talk about oversight. This is part of our mandate and hers too. We have been having these sessions since January 28 and have heard from different leaders to get an understanding of some of the issues raised,” he said.

The government allocates 16.5 per cent of its budget to the health sector.

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