Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Dr Diana Atwine, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health has withdrawn a letter she wrote confirming the upgrade of Barjobi Health Centre III to IV instead of Okwang Health Centre III.
On November 14, Dr Atwine wrote to the Chief Administrative Officer of Otuke District informing him of no objection to the District’s plan to upgrade Barjobi Health Centre III to Health Centre IV. “Given that Barjobi HCIII is now for an upgrade to a Health Centre IV, the infrastructure to be constructed using the appropriated funds as per the IPF letter should be a theatre of a Health Centre IV level.”
However, two days later, Dr Atwine wrote another letter cancelling her earlier directive. She says the Ministry is still waiting on the report of the technical assessment of the two facilities.
“The Ministry on the guidance of the Minister of Health constituted a technical team to assess the two facilities for an upgrade to HCIV. The report of the technical assessment is yet to be considered and recommendations accordingly made.” The letter reads in part.
It continued that “The purpose of this communication, therefore, is to; (1) Withdraw the letter confirming Barjobi Health Centre III for an upgrade to Health Centre IV, and (2) inform you that the Ministry shall communicate its recommendations to the District after considering the technical assessment report.”
Early in October, Simon Peter Akileng, the CAO Otuke wrote to the Ministry of Health stating that the District council meeting held in September unanimously agreed that Barjobi Health Centre III having satisfied all the requirements should be upgraded to Health Centre IV.
“This decision settles all the previous arguments and controversies in regard to the location of the site.” The letter reads.
In 2020, the health monitoring and evaluation team from the Ministry of Health comprising the Director of Health Services and the Permanent Secretary visited Okwang Health Centre III and recommended its upgrade to Health Center IV status.
However, in August, Paul Omara, the Otuke County Member of Parliament announced that Barjobi will be upgraded instead of Okwang. This sparked rifts among the community members and local leaders in the district who protested the move and accused the MP of centralizing development in his home area.
They also argued that upgrading Barjobi will not help the community of Otuke Constituency because Barjobi is close to Ogur Health Centre IV in Lira District.
This forced the MoH to dispatch a technical team to assess both facilities to ascertain which qualifies to be upgraded to level IV status. The team is yet to submit their report.