COVID WAR: Health Ministry Secures 143 ICU Beds, 1,000 Mattresses

Some of the beds at the Mandela Auxiliary treatment Center in Namboole

As the war against Covid-19 intensifies, the ministry of health has procured and distributed 143 intensive care unit (ICU) beds to the various facilities across the country.

These ICU equipment, according to the ministry in a statement sent to Red pepper, are complete with ventilators, patient monitors and high flow oxygen therapy apparatus. “Although the plan and budget captured refurbishing of some ICUs in some hospitals before installation, it is important to note that funds to undertake this activity are yet to be obtained.

Therefore, some of the equipment in some hospitals will be installed once refurbishing is done. You may wish to note that the Ministry is expanding space to ensure that ICU equipment is installed at the earliest possible time,” the ministry notes. 

The revelation is part of the clarification by the ministry on how it used some of the funds allocated to them in the war against COVID-19.

This comes after a report by the budget monitoring and accountability unit of the finance ministry on all expenditure by the health ministry in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, contained some inaccuracies which MoH has since come out to clarify.


Part of the ICU beds and equipment installed at one of the Regional Referral Hospital

The report alleges that the Ministry of Health signed 3 contracts with Joint Medical Stores worth UGX 1.3 Bn to supply 1,000 beds and mattresses, 2,000 blankets and 2,000 bed sheets. However, during verification, the team only verified delivery of 331 beds and mattresses. The report further adds that “although 300 beds were moved from Namboole to Mulago, the latter acknowledged receipt of 290 instead of 300 beds. Mulago also received 108 mattresses which does not commensurate to the beds provided. Three of the beds were already broken and left at Namboole.”

These findings have been protested by the ministry of health. In a statement sent to the Red pepper, so far, the health ministry said 1,000 hospital beds, mattresses, and bedding have been procured and distributed to the different COVID-19 treatment units, including 300 in Mulago and 700 at Namboole, which was turned into a temporary treatment facility. “The Ministry would like to categorically state that a total of 1,000 beds, 1,000 mattresses and 1,000 blankets were delivered to Mandela Auxiliary treatment Center in Namboole. Out of which,700 beds were fixed in Mandela Auxiliary treatment Centre while 300 were re-located to Mulago National Referral Hospital and are being utilized by COVID-19 patients,” MoH clarifies, adding that: “The items are available for verification at both sites. It is unfortunate that the monitoring team did not physically enter the hospital to view the aforementioned items at the hospital. Reason has it that since the team feared to enter COVID-19 treatment centers of Mulago and Namboole, the team ought to have trusted what our medical information provided , rather than assuming that beds had disappeared, or they were not available.”

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. 

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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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