August 9, 2013

EBOLA: Luweero Officials Fail To Account For Funds

Luweero district councillors have rejected a report containing expenditures on the fight against Ebola outbreak after the Health department failed to account for 300 million shillings.

In November 2012, an Ebola outbreak killed at least four people in Kakuute Village, Nyimbwa Sub County. The Ministry of Health disbursed over 300 million shillings to help in combating the disease, but on Tuesday councillors tasked the District Health Officer Joseph Okware and Disan Kikabi Mayanja, the Chairperson district Health Committee to explain how the money was spent.

Ebola task force in Medical gear. In November 2012, an Ebola outbreak killed at least four people in Luweero ditrict
Ebola task force in Medical gear. In November 2012, an Ebola outbreak killed at least four people in Luweero ditrict

Kikabi Mayanja said that at least 106.4 million shillings was spent on allowances of about 200 health workers, while another 54 million was spent on social mobilization.  District officials including the Local Council 5 Chairperson, Resident District Commissioner, District Internal Security Officer and District Health Officer among others reportedly got 24 million shillings.

The report also indicated that 41 million shillings was spent on training village health teams, orientation of health workers and collection of blood specimen, whereas 17 million shillings went on logistics and coordination. On case management, the officials say they spent 79 million shillings.

But Abdul Kalemera, the councillor representing Nyimbwa Sub County, rejected the accountabilities saying that they were forged. Kalemera noted that the health department claimed they used over 10 million shillings to connect water and electricity utilities at Nyimbwa Health Centre Ebola Isolation Camp, but these and other facilities were sponsored by PLAN Uganda, a non government organization as part of their 100 million shillings donation.

He added that other organisations like Uganda Red Cross Society, WHO, Medicines San Frontiers among others contributed, but they were shocked that the same services offered were indicated in the report as having been paid for with money from the Ministry of Health.

Victor Nabukenya Noeline, the district Youth Councillor tasked the chairperson Health Committee to produce a list of beneficiaries of the 54 million shillings spent on mobilization, yet some of volunteers were still demanding for their allowances. Nabukenya suspects the money was swindled and asked the Inspector General of Government to investigate the matter.

Erasto Kibirango, the district councillor for Bamunanika Sub County, tabled a parliamentary budget committee report dated May 17th 2013 indicating that 1.61 billion shillings was spent by the Ministry of Health to combat Ebola in Luweero.

Kibirango wondered where the rest of the money went if the district received only 300 million shillings which was poorly managed. He asked councillors to reject the accountabilities and order the District Health Officer Joseph Okware to present another report.

Kikabi Mayanja said that 300 million shillings was spent, but accused some councillors of being bitter because they were not given allowances on the funds. He however admitted that he was also surprised to learn that the Ministry of Health got 1.61 billion shillings from Ministry of Finance but released only 300 million to the district.

The councillors unanimously voted to reject the accountabilities and acting Speaker Abdul Kasule ordered the District Health Committee to compile another report and table it in next council sitting.

The Luweero District Health Officer Joseph Okware declined to comment on councillors’ allegations.

The District Woman Member of Parliament Brenda Nabukenya told local media that the parliamentary budget committee also rejected the Ministry of Health expenditures on Ebola fight and recommended that the money be recovered because it was erroneously spent.

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