September 24th 2017

Opinion / Commentaries

Rwandan ban on medics using cellphones at work worth emulating

"The ban applies to all health facilities during working hours. Patients have been complaining of medical workers who spend a lot of time on phone calls while on duty forcing patients to wait for long."

By Nyambura Muthoninmuthoni@kenyafreepress.comMonday, 13 Feb 2017 11:04 EAT

This doctor is checking his phone just after duty. A doctor using his phone during work time can steal valuable man hours.

Rwanda has scored another first in East Africa through the ban on medics' use of cellphones while on duty. The order is intended to speed up healthcare service delivery to patients, according to the country's Ministry of Health. According to international news reports, the ministry has directed that effective March 1, 2017, healthcare providers will be prohibited from using personal phones during working hours to “ensure better service delivery”.

It made the decision to implement the policy after officials agreed that speaking for long on personal phones affects service delivery in the health sector. Speaking to Xinhua on Friday, Dr Diane Gashumba, Rwandan Minister for Health, confirmed the development saying that the use of cell phones by medical workers on duty was a challenge to improved healthcare services to patients. "The ban applies to all health facilities during working hours. Patients have been complaining of medical workers who spend a lot of time on phone calls while on duty forcing patients to wait for long."

Dr Gashumba stated that healthcare facilities will be fitted with office telephones for staff to use in case of calls related to the care of patients and other emergencies. She said the ministry will now discuss how to implement and enforce the ban that will affect all healthcare professionals in the country, and is part of policies the government is developing to optimize better service delivery. Rwanda targets to improve service delivery to 80 percent by 2017.

Cellphones can help steal valuable man hours of doctors. As the phones have almost become a basic need, its usage can undermine productivity. A cellphone provides many functions among them entertainment which is a major distraction for workers. So, you find everyone staring at their cellphones playing games, using the internet, exchanging messages and so on.

A person may actually spend a lot of time on cellphone which results to time wastage and delay of duties not only in the employed sector but also at home. This policy should be applied in Kenya since many people lose their lives due to dilly-dallying by the medical practitioners who care less about the patients. If this will be implemented in the Kenyan law, provision of health care will improve and benefit many.

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