With a failing health system, hospitals in a state of disrepair, Ugandans seeking for medical attention in government facilities will brace themselves and continue sleeping on bare floors after news that there will be no new mattresses this financial year.
State Minister for Health Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye on Thursday made a passionate plea to Parliament to ask government to allocate money to buy hospital beds and mattresses.
Dr Tumwesigye told the Health Committee led by Kenneth Omona, MP Kaberamaido, that the National Medical Stores (NMS) in the financial year 2011/2012 had planned to procure beds and mattresses for all health facilities in Uganda at a cost of 16 billion shillings.
The money was diverted by Ministry of Health to facilitate what it termed priorities and urgent needs worsened by a budget cut off in the fourth quarter hence failure to procure beds.
Government needs a total of 31,305 beds to cover two national referral hospitals with 1200 beds for both adults and children.
13 Regional Referral hospitals require 3250 beds, 48 general hospitals 6000 beds, 170 heath centres IV 6,800 beds and 937 health centres III’s need 14,055 beds.
The grand total including delivery and assembling at the health facility requires 22.4 billion shillings.
The State Minister then dropped the bombshell that funds have not been provided to procure beds and mattresses this financial year.
Dr Tumwesigye noted that this is a critical area and appealed that if the committee could get money from another sector and avail beds.
Moses Kamabare the National Medical Stores Executive Director, explained to the committee that in 2012 government had an understanding with Global Fund to procure drugs under the long term institutions procurement.
However since there was no decision made between Global Fund and government to acquire the money, the government went ahead to spend the 16 billion meant for mattresses with hope that it would get reimbursed as soon as Global Fund releases the funds for HIV/AIDS.
Kamabare adds that in the third quarter of the financial year 2012/2013 Global Fund did not honour its promise and instead decided to provide actual medical supplies to different facilities.
The Ministry of Health also used the money for what they determined as priorities and the balance was used to buy other urgent needs.
Kabasharira Naome, Ntungamo Woman MP, suggested that since government is not going to be able to afford to get the 22 billion shillings, the ministry should identify the critical areas such as Kitagata hospital and buy the mattresses.
The unit cost of each adult bed and mattress is 292.5 dollars with a total cost of 6.689,703 million dollars. Meanwhile the total cost of the paediatric bed is 232 dollars with a total of 1.961.137 million dollars.