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Ministry of Health responds to damning COVID-19 report

New ambulances at the MOH headquarters in Kampala. A Finance Ministry report warns of the cost of delayed delivery. PHOTOS MOH

📌 BMAU Assessment guide 
90% and above Very Good (Achieved at least 90% of outputs and outcomes)
70%-89% Good (Achieved at least 70% of outputs and outcomes)
✅ MOH – 50%-69% Fair (Achieved at least 50% of outputs outcomes)
49% and below Poor (Achieved below 50% of outputs and outcomes)
Source: BMAU

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT |  The Budget Monitoring and Accountability Unit (BMAU) has released a report that is questioning several of the Ministry of Health’s expenditures in many areas including the campaign to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

The BMAU that prepares semi-annual and annual monitoring reports of selected government programs and projects, gave the Ministry an overall score of only 59% (fair) for its performance in the financial year.

The report indicates that while sh2.2 trillion was spent in the first 4 months by the Ministry of health, a lot of planned purchases are either not yet delivered or overly priced by companies with poor track records. The report cites many cases of late implementation of projects, or even those outside the project objectives.

The report from the Ministry of Finance was released at the end of November and focuses on budgetary allocation and expenditure as of June 2020.

The Ministry of Health has responded to the report by indicating what they state are many contradictions BMAU made in their conclusions. They argue that the BMAU team did not get all their facts together.

The Law society on its part has called for an investigation of the issues raised.

The President of Uganda Law Society Pheona Nabasa  on Friday called for accountability for all funds allocated to deal with COVID-19, and recovery from months of lockdown.

She wants an account for the money passed to boost capacity of hospitals to handle COVID-19 patients and money allocated to boost the economy. She said there are also many questions raised about  purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) and intensive care unit beds at national and regional referral hospitals, plus the quality of treatment tents.

Ministry of health responds

The Ministry has come out to “set the record straight on a report titled ‘COVID-19 Interventions Report Financial Year 2019/20’ authored by a team of the Budget Monitoring and Accountability Unit of Budgetary allocation and Expenditure as of June 2020.”

The Ministry of Health permanent secretary Dr Diana Atwine argued that most of the monies reported by BMAU have not been received yet, not yet transferred from the bank to them, or are actually being delivered in kind.

For example, she said, “the  GlobalFund initially committed to support the #COVID19 Response by providing sh28 billion in-kind. This meant that they would NOT provide money, instead, they would procure commodities and deliver them to Uganda.”

The Ministry of Health in a statement have said that by the end of September 2020, Global Fund had for example delivered all pledged commodities to the Ministry of Health, but that happened after the period covered in the report.

On megaphones aimed to help spread word in the communities, the Ministry of Health again states they were received in September, well after the report investigation had been done.

“The monitoring took place at the time when the distribution of the megaphones was ongoing. The megaphones were delivered on the 21st of September 2020,” MOH states in their response.

“So far, all districts except 10 districts have received the megaphones. The 10 districts include: Amudat, Bushenyi, Butaleja, Kaabong, Kamwenge, Kalangala, Karenga, Lwengo, Mitooma and Napak”

Ambulances ‘missing’

Although the report states that ambulances for the Covid-19 program were yet to be delivered,  “MOH would like to clarify that 33 type B ambulances have since been received at the Ministry and another 5 ambulances are going through the Customs clearing at the Kenya Port of Mombasa.”

The Ministry goes to argue technical difficulties or late delivery on the issues raised related to beds, mattresses, blankets, bed sheets, 20 Sleeper Tents  and ICU facilities.

“At the onset of COVID-19 Pandemic in Uganda, the MOH undertook a needs-assessment, revised specifications and procured 7 oxygen plants, 450 oxygen cylinders, 5 filling stations and other accessories. Four of the seven plants have been installed at Mulago National Referral Hospital while the two have been installed at Entebbe Grade B and Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital. One  has been allocated to Kayunga Regional Referral Hospital.”

MOH states that these are high tech, high volume, high flow and high purity oxygen plants procured to ensure continuous supply of oxygen to patients, which is critical in the management of COVID-19.

“While the Ministry acknowledges that the contract was signed in May 2020, it is important to find out why the delivery and installations had not commenced in the agreed timeline. The general public and the authors of this report are aware that Uganda went into a total lockdown in March 2020 and this greatly affected logistics among others,” MOH said in their statement, adding, “However, contrary to what the report stated ‘deliveries and installations had not commenced by September 2020’, the plants were delivered in August 2020 .”

One of the tents set up in Soroti and not Namboole as earlier planned.

Tents ‘at Namboole’

The BMAU report states that all the tents procured failed and could not be used to accommodate patients as earlier anticipated due to their weak specifications and capacity. MOH argued otherwise.

” MOH would like to categorically state that the tents could not be erected in Namboole Auxiliary COVID19 treatment Centre as this would damage the turf at the premises. Therefore, in order to expand capacity for COVID-19 treatment at district level, the tents were reallocated to the Regional Referral Hospitals (RRHs).”

MOH stated that all the 20 tents have since been delivered, erected and are under use at the Regional Referral Hospitals across the country. It says the tents supplied meet the required specification.

FULL REPORT -BUDGET MONITORING REPORT

UGANDA Health Sector Annual… by The Independent Magazine

Cost of meals

On the cost of meals for persons who were under quarantine, the BMAU report states that a unit cost of food (plate of food) at one of the hotels in Kampala cost sh105,000.

“The Ministry of Health would like to clarify that the quoted cost of sh105,000 was for full-board accommodation at the designated quarantine facility. It included the cost of accommodation and all meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and not only ‘a meal’ as quoted in the report.”

One of the microphones MOH says it has received

In their response, MOH continue to argue that all they did was release funds to Regional Referral Hospitals and Local governments for meals for patients under isolation and persons who underwent quarantine. It said they did not participate in selecting the suppliers

The MOH also confirmed that to-date, a total of nearly 29 million masks have been delivered to 91 districts of the over 140 districts, in the country.

The MOH response concludes by stating that “MOH believes in transparency and accountability for the all the funds disbursed for the various programs and activities from both government and development partners. In the same vein, accountability will be made available to the responsible bodies as constitutionally mandated.”

 

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