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Bickering over Mukono hospital hurts patients

Mukono Hospital. Courtesy photo

Mukono, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Be careful what you ask for, the saying goes, for you might get it. That is what has caused anguish to authorities of Mukono municipality who lobbied and pushed for the elevation of their health centre IV to a hospital. To their dismay when their request was granted, they were required to hand the hospital over to the district.

The municipality was not willing to let go of their baby to the district whose managerial competence they question. And now like the proverbial grass that suffers when two elephants fight, the public and patients in Mukono have to endure the brunt of the unprincipled bickering between the municipal and district bosses that ensued, as service delivery is being impaired. Interventions at the highest by the Health Minister herself and the Permanent Secretary have not yielded any results as the fighting rages on.

When the Ministry of Health guided that the hospital be handed over to district for management, the municipality instead petitioned the ministry requesting to retain control and also guide them on how to manage wages and recruitment of additional staff and drugs in this financial year.

The Health Permanent Secretary Dr. Diana Atwine’s response in various letters instead guided the municipality to transfer management to the district but all was in vain.

Dr. Atwiine and the Minister for Health Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng in July this year convened a meeting at the district where the minster ordered the municipality hand over responsibilities to the district in a period of two weeks which to date has not been done.

However, according to the District Chief Administrative Officer-CAO James Nkata, since then, the municipality is instead focused on transferring health workers from lower health facilities to the hospital which role is not under their mandate.

Since recruitment of workers goes through a process, Nkata says that this affects patients at lower health units where gaps for workers are left. At the same time, also workers transferred to the hospital are still idle since the current arrangement does not cater for them. The hospital is still under transit process from the HCIV setting.

Nkata also accuses the municipality for declining to transfer funds to the hospital bank account managed by the medical superintendent Dr Geoffrey Kasirye who reports directly to him and instead want funds controlled on health center IV account.

HCIV funds are managed by committees under lower local government units while that of the hospital is managed by the hospital board elected by the district. For Mukono general hospital, the district elected board is chaired by Dr Kefa Ssempangi.

According to the Health Ministry policy, General Hospitals serve as referral facilities for the population beyond the lower local government where they are located. In this case, the lower local government is the municipality operating under the district of Mukono.

Although the municipal principal medical officer Dr Anthony Kkonde declined to speak on record, he is not happy with the ministry’s decision of handing over the hospital to the district. He had earlier observed that the district had two HCIVs of Kojja and Naggalama but has failed to push for their elevation to hospital status.

The Municipal Deputy Mayor Jamadah Kajoba reveals that their executive committee resolved to sue the district and the MOH for forcefully taking over responsibility of managing the facility which has been run properly under their care.

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