23 November 2017

Uganda: Government Supplies Medicine to Ghost Health Centre

Kabale — A ghost health centre III in Kabale District has reportedly been receiving drug allocations from government.

The matter came to the fore during a workshop for Kabale District Integrity Promotion Forum last Friday.

During the workshop, it was discovered that drugs meant for Buhara Health Centre III, a non-governmental organisation run by Kabale Diocese, has over the years been sent to a non-existent health centre using the same name.

The officer-in-charge of Buhara Health Centre III, Mr Tarsis Byomugabe, said drug allocations started reducing in the last quarter of Financial Year 2013/2014 and the situation worsened in 2016.

"When the problem reached the climax, we went to the district health officer, who forwarded our issue to the Ministry of Health (MOH). The ministry told us that the problem came as a result of having two NGO health centre IIIs with similar names. We first thought that it was the government owned Buhara Health Centre III, but we also wondered how the government facility would be included on the list of the private not-for-profit health centre," Mr Byomugabe said.

No drugs

He added: "Before the reduction, our facility was getting Shs3.6 million per quarter for primary healthcare drug allocations, but now it has reduced to Shs829, 845 for the October-November-December 2017 quarter."

Mr Byomugabe said Joint Medical Stores (JMS) had indicated that they would not honour their requests for drugs until the issue is resolved.

"For six months now, we have not received drug supplies from the Joint Medical Stores and we now depend on handouts from other facilities such as Buhara Health Centre III, Mazibar Health Centre IV, Kabale District stores and other private not-for-profit facilities in the district to be able to offer health services to patients," said Mr Byomugabe.

The chairperson of the health centre management committee, Ms Lenmary Byamugisha, together with the health centre administrator, Fr Austine Christmas, on October 16 wrote to the Kabale District health officer over the matter.

"We were notified by the JMS and the MOH central office that our order for medicines was dishonoured because the system showed two facilities reflecting the same status and it became ambiguous on which one to consider. Whereas we thought that it belonged to our sister facility of Buhara Health Centre III, which is government owned, it was found to be different because the bank accounts and the supply code do not resemble. The above scandal has also worried us that may be it could be the reason as to why our orders for medicines is being dishonoured," the letter reads in part.

Ghost health centre

The acting Kabale District health officer, Sr Immaculate Mandela, said they know only one Buhara private health facility and another one owned by government.

"In our system, we have only one Buhara Health Centre III operating as a private health centre under the Uganda Catholic Medical Bureau owned by Kabale Diocese and it's the one that we support," she said.

"The other one using the same name is a ghost and the district security committee should investigate this matter because this second Buhara Health Centre NGO under the Uganda Catholic Medical Bureau does not exist on ground despite that fact that it receives government drug allocation from the Joint Medical stores," Sr Mandela added.

She said when they received the complaint they visited the area and failed to establish the premises of the second Buhara Health Centre III NGO that receives government supplies.

The executive director of Kick Corruption Out of Uganda, a non-governmental organisation, Mr Robert Kakuru called for a speedy resolution of the matter.

The Kabale District Internal Security Officer, Mr Ronald Kashaija, said he would instruct police to investigate the matter so that those who own the ghost health centre are prosecuted.


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