MISSING: Controversy Over 8 Covid 19 Ambulances Meant For Mbale Regional Referral Hospital

By SMN Reporter

MBALE, UGANDA-SHIFTEMDIA- Controversy shrouds the whereabouts of 8 ambulances purportedly given to Mbale Regional Referral Hospital.

Recently the Ministry of Health came out to account for some of the Covid 19 funds indicating ambulances were purchased for the Covid fight.

But in a new twist of events, the Mbale-based hospital management has denied ever receiving any (8) ambulances from the Ministry of Health.

Top ministry of Health officials led by minister Jane Ruth Aceng and permanent secretary Dr. Diana Atwine told MPs last week that 8 ambulances had been dispatched to Mbale hospital in eastern Uganda to serve the region.

However, the hospital director, Dr. Emmanuel Tugaineyo informed the Covid-19 parliamentary committee led by Dr. Patrick Mutono (Butebo County) how they are struggling to manage Covid-19 cases in the entire region with only two ambulances.

Mutono said everywhere they went people were asking them where the ambulances were.

The Committee chair instructed the hospital management to trace for the other six missing ambulances.

The lack of ambulances in the region has greatly affected the transportation of critically sick Covid 19 patients to hospitals.

Timothy Batuwa, the Jinja West MP, read out the number plates of the ambulances as submitted by the Ministry of Health, saying they were meant to station at Mbale hospital each serving different areas within the region.
According to the parliamentary Committee on Health, the 8 ambulances were meant to serve Mbale City- Mbale hospital (UG 6488N),  Mbale Regional Referral Hospital (UG 6748M), Bugonkho South (UG 6740M),

Others were to serve Manjiya and Bududa (UG 6834M), Namusindwa and Bubulo (UG 6835M), Budaka (UG 6860M), and Bukedi (UG 6861) all meant to be stationed at Mbale regional referral.

Though the Ministry officials told Parliament that hospitals receive shs 980,000 for fuel per day for ambulances, this was denied by the hospital management.

Hon. Karim Masaba, Mbale Industrial City Division MP promised that his committee will follow up the matter with the Health minister.

Ministry of Health Clarifies

The Ministry of Health however later issued a statement on Wednesday evening, clarifying that only 7 ambulances had been dispatched to Mbale hospital as of June 2021.

On the alleged Shs 980,000 paid daily to maintain and facilitate the ambulances, the ministry said the ministry officials were quoted out of context by the MPs because the response was on what it would take to run ambulances upcountry.

“The quote from the Covid-19 parliamentary committee visit at Mbale hospital on the amount of money allocated per ambulance daily was based on the response that the MOH made on “what it takes to run one ambulance in Kampala and whether this can be replicated across the country.”

Adding: From the cost of offering an ambulance service in the Kampala Metropolitan Area at the peak of the current wave, one ambulance uses approximately UGX 980,000 daily. This cost includes fuel (80 liters), risk allowances for two medical personnel, decontamination of the vehicle, personal protective equipment (PPEs), oxygen cylinders, essential medicines, vehicle service, repair, and maintenance. On average, each ambulance transports 5 patients giving an average cost of UGX 196,000 per patient,” reads the statement. -URN


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