COVID WAR: Regional Hospitals Get Mega Tents To Boost Space Capacity


With various government health facilities including regional hospitals getting overwhelmed by a large number of Covid-19 patients’ admissions, the ministry of health has found a solution to space constraints. As a result, the ministry has decided to distribute 20 sleeper tents to Regional Referral Hospitals (RRHs).

These tents were originally procured and supposed to be erected in Namboole Auxiliary COVID19 treatment Centre. However, it was later discovered that this would damage the turf at the premises, hence a decision to relocate them.  

The ministry has been prompted to clarify on this after a report by the Budget Monitoring and Accountability Unit (BMAU) captured many inaccuracies on how funds meant for Covid-19 war were utilized. MoH argued that the BMAU team did not get all their facts together.
 
The BMAU report states that all the tents procured failed and could not be used to accommodate patients as earlier anticipated due to their weak specifications and capacity. MOH argued otherwise.

“The report states that 20 Sleeper Tents worth UGX 3.8Bn were procured from M/s Lumious Uganda Limited. The report further adds that ‘although the contract stipulated 20 tents, only 13 were signed and installed at Namboole by the time of monitoring in September 2020. The authors alleged that ‘all the tents procured failed and could not be used to accommodate patients as earlier anticipated due to their weak specifications and capacity. ’The Ministry would like to categorically state that the tents could not be erected in Namboole Auxiliary COVID-19 treatment Centre as this would damage the turf at the premises. Therefore, in order to expand capacity for COVID-19 treatment at the district level, the tents were reallocated to the Regional Referral Hospitals (RRHs).”

MOH stated that all the 20 tents have since been delivered, erected and are under use at the Regional Referral Hospitals across the country. It says the tents supplied meet the required specification.
 
“For purposes of clarification, all the tents supplied meet the required specification.”

ACCOMMODATION HIRED TO QUARANTINE ABROAD RETURNEES AND COVID-19 SUSPECTS

On this matter, the report also questions the engagement of Kirigime guest house in Kabale District and further asks why the same measures were not undertaken in other points of entry.

But according to MoH, the Government of Uganda instituted mandatory institutional quarantine for all returning travellers on March 17th, 2020. In the same vein, Cabinet resolved to meet the costs of all the returning travellers until the airport was closed on March 22nd, 2020 at designated Government quarantine sites.

However, when the repatriation of Ugandans stranded abroad resumed, it was communicated that all returnees would meet their costs at the designated quarantine sites.
 
“The Ministry of Health would like to clarify that this is because unlike other borders, 86 Ugandans stranded abroad were dropped off at the border in Kabale District. It was more economical to quickly set up an institutional quarantine site rather than transport all of them to Kampala. The process of identifying a hotel (Kirigme guest house) was done by the Kabale District Taskforce to urgently accommodate the stranded nationals who returned through the Uganda-Rwanda border point at Katuna. The Ministry of Health worked with the Ministry of Tourism to identify hotels that agreed to accommodate the COVID-19 suspected travellers.”
 
MEALS PROVIDED FOR QUARANTINED INDIVIDUALS, COVID-19 SUSPECTS AND PATIENTS

On the cost of meals for persons who were under quarantine, the BMAU report states that a unit cost of food (plate of food) at one of the hotels in Kampala cost UGX.105,000. MoH refutes this. “The Ministry of Health would like to clarify that the quoted cost of UGX.105,000 was for full-board accommodation at the designated quarantine facility. It included the cost of accommodation and all meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and not only ‘a meal’ as quoted in the report.”

The Ministry of Health is said to have released funds to Regional Referral Hospitals and Local governments for meals for patients under isolation and persons who underwent quarantine. “It therefore did not participate in selecting the suppliers.”

MoH PROTESTS

MoH has since protested to the ministry of finance over this ‘biased’ report. “We would like to also note that BMAU  hurriedly released an incomplete and unsigned report in October  2020  to social media without receiving feedback from the  Ministry of Health as it was expected. While the team states in its report that there was physical monitoring of the various interventions,  most of their work was done over the phone and also promised to  come  at a later time to follow up.  Even in areas where they did physical verification, information was obtained from junior officers who had little information to provide. 

The documentary review  of the  procurement  files that was  done lacked clarity  from contract managers  hence  the distortions in  the report.   Although monitors  are  not  auditors it  would have been  courteous for  them  to share  their report  for  complete feedback  as  expected. The Ministry of Health only noticed this report circulating on social media which the sector objected to in writing to MOFPED. Instead of sending the report formally, the Commissioner in charge of Planning at the Ministry of Health received an unsigned copy via e-mail. However,  to-date  the  Ministry  of  Health  has  never  received  an  authentic and signed copy of this report.”
 

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