Jinja, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Police in Kiira region is investigating the theft of at least 59 oxygen cylinders from Jinja regional referral hospital. On Tuesday, police picked up several health workers, security guards and drivers, whose names have been withheld since the prime suspects are still at large to aid the investigations.
The suspects are locked up at Jinja central police station for interrogation. The missing cylinders were majorly supplied by National Medical Stores-NMS. Some were donations from well-wishers to boost efforts in managing severe COVID-19 cases throughout the Busoga sub-region between 2020 and 2021.
A security guard who spoke on condition of anonymity said that most of the essential footage, which would help police to identify the prime suspects in this matter was deleted from the hospital CCTV servers, which has slowed down the investigations.
He adds that most of the senior doctors and nurses attached to the hospital don’t allow security guards to check their vehicles during their arrival and departure from hospital premises, making it hard for them to avoid the theft of hospital equipment and drugs.
A health worker attached to the hospital store department told URN on condition of anonymity that they had 110 cylinders but some of them vanished in September last year. “We made an audit on these cylinders early this year and we discovered that dozens of them were missing under unclear circumstances. But most of our superiors denied knowledge about the disappearance of such essential hospital equipment,” the source said.
Another health worker said that some of her colleagues took advantage of the laxity within the hospital administration to steal the cylinders. “Our former director, Dr Florence Tugumisirize took long to vacate office despite clocking her retirement age in early December. She continued staying and created unprecedented power struggles with more attention directed towards pushing her out of the hospital, rather than focusing on safeguarding hospital equipment and fending for the wellbeing of patients,” she said.
The acting hospital director Angela Namala, said that the matter is being handled by police but declined to divulge details. Kiira regional police spokesperson James Mubi said police inquiries are still in their primary stage, adding that they will avail the media with a conclusive report after completing their investigations.