19 June 2019

Uganda: Theft of Hospital Supplies Worries Mityana Officials

When an assortment of equipment, including microscopes, solar batteries, computers, television sets and a CD4 machine went missing from Mityana General Hospital in July, 2018, district leaders considered it as an isolated incident.

But on April 19, thieves sneaked into the hospital premises again and made off with a master computer containing information on operations, purchases and logistics at the facility.

In the last 11 months, the hospital management has only recovered one computer and solar batteries that were found hidden in a garbage collection point at the hospital.

The district leaders are now investigating the continuous disappearance of key medical equipment from Mityana hospital.

More theft

According to insiders, the only functioning X-Ray machine at the facility also disappeared under unclear circumstances and was reportedly replaced with an non-functional one, which information Daily Monitor cannot independently verify. But the biggest question the district officials are grappling with is, who are behind this theft?

Mr Isha Ntumwa, the Mityana Resident District commissioner, said theft of equipment and drugs at the hospital is puzzling them, but they have taken some measures to tackle the problem.

"As chairperson of the district security committee, I have asked police to deploy personnel to work with security guards to beef up security at the hospital. What we are witnessing today appears to be a well-connected ring involving some staff," he told this newspaper at the weekend.

Mr Ntumwa said preliminary police investigations had revealed that the hospital master computer was stolen by one of the staff members working in the laboratory department.

"The hospital has a biometric finger print technology and one has to be a staff member to access the room where the master computer was. So, we recently held a meeting with the hospital management and the medical superintendent informed us they had resolved that staff in laboratory department contribute money towards replacing the stolen master computer," he said.

Mr Joseph Luzige, the Mityana District chairperson, accused the hospital management of concealing information about stolen equipment and accountability of Shs130m reimbursed to the hospital every year.

"We really don't know why they [hospital management] are hiding crucial information from us, but some good Samaritan has given us CCTV cameras which we are going to install at the hospital to monitor whatever goes on there," he said.

However, Mityana hospital spokesperson Edward Muganga said they are also wondering how the equipment disappeared from the hospital. "We have asked police to investigate and we hope they will give us a report," he said in a telephone interview with Daily Monitor on Monday.

He said they are yet to compute the cost of equipment so far stolen from the hospital.

Police speaks out

Mr Norbert Ochom, the Wamala Regional police spokesperson, said in two cases of theft that the hospital reported to them, police arrested one suspect who has since been charged in court and sentenced to nine years.

"That person who stole a CD4 machine, television set, solar batteries, microscope and computers was working as a porter [casual labourer] during the rehabilitation of the hospital and he knew all offices very well, but it is quite evident that he connived with some staff. We are still investigating the matter," Mr Ochom said.

Background

Mityana hospital receives between 300 and 450 patients daily, including some from neighbouring districts such as Kassanda, Kiboga, Gomba and some parts of Wakiso and Mubende. Although government has renovated several hospitals in the country, many remain without equipment. Where it has been provided, members of staff have not been equipped to deal with the modern machines.

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