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Museveni queries delayed construction of Gulu University teaching hospital

Gulu, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT |  President Museveni has questioned officials at the Health Ministry over delays in finalizing the signing of a memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with an Austrian firm for the construction of a specialized Teaching Hospital at Gulu University.

Early last year, a team from VAMED Engineering Gmbh from Austria during a meeting with President Museveni made a proposal to construct and finance a 324-bed capacity Modern specialized Hospital in Gulu City.

Construction of the specialized hospital was to be funded by the Germany Export Credit Agency Covered Financing to the tune of 155.2 million Euros (approximately 618 billion shillings) on a turnkey basis.

However, in a letter dated July 12 2023 seen by Uganda Radio Network addressed to the Health Minister Dr. Jane Ruth Acheng, President Museveni wondered why the Ministry hadn’t taken up the opportunity to date.

The President noted that the VAMED Engineering Gmbh team had brought in cheaper finances with an interest rate below 1 percent proposed for the project compared to the 5 percent interests the Finance Ministry has been signing in the past. He says the team had briefed him about how they had been able to construct a total of 1,000 hospitals across the globe.

“Why should we delay such a project when someone is bringing much money at very low interest rates and payable over a period of more than 10 years? I directed a team headed by you to meet this team and up to today no report has ever come from the Ministry of Health, what happened? The President questioned.

Museveni noted that he had directed a meeting between the VAMED Engineering Gmbh team and the Health Ministry to add in more specialized areas that are needed in the country and remove those not needed but no report has been availed.

“I have also been told that the VAMED team needs 3 years to build, and furnish, this hospital with all the medical equipment, and it would be a good practice that after completion they manage the hospital for more three years as a way of building capacity of our people to manage the hospital for better in future when they leave,” Reads part of the letter.

Adding “In essence, if we had handed over the site of construction this year, we would have our hospital ready for use by the end of 2026,”

He directed the Health Ministry and Ministry of Finance to liaise with the Attorney General to immediately enter into an MOU with VAMED Engineering Gmbh to construct the hospital in Gulu.

“This should be done without any delay for us not to lose this cheap money,” He directed.

The President also directed the Ministry of Sports and Education to liaise with Gulu University to allocate 20 acres of land to VAMED Engineering Gmbh where they will construct the hospital.

Ketty Lamaro, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Education and Sports in a letter dated August 29 seen by URN addressed to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, sought the guidance of the Health Ministry in implementing the project.

Lamaro noted that the University had already confirmed the availability of 20 acres of land which is part of the Central Forest Reserve in Pece-Laroo Division which had been allocated to the University for Expansion by the government.

Gulu University Public Relations Officer James Ojok Onono told Uganda Radio Network in an interview Monday that they hadn’t yet received feedback from the Health Ministry. He however says the University will be working with all the stakeholders and is optimistic that the Health Ministry will respond.

“We have over 70 acres of land available. We already had a master plan of the teaching hospital before the package from the president but we are repurposing our master plan of the Teaching Hospital and giving this one a priority because we were supposed to look for the money but this is fully funded,” says Onono.

Efforts to get comments from Dr. Diana Atwine, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health on the matter were futile as she didn’t answer repeated phone calls I her known mobile phone number.

Once constructed, the specialized facility is expected to offer clinical services, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, radiology services, surgical services, laboratory and pathology services, and outpatient and functional diagnostics.

Other services are endoscopy, inpatient, intensive, and clinical care services (32 beds), dialysis services (12 beds), accident and emergency services, obstetrics, rehabilitation, clinical teaching, and education services among others.

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