KAMPALA, March 28– The Ugandan Parliament has directed the parliamentary health committee to carry out investigations to draft a comprehensive report on the state of health services in the country and the necessary measures for improvement.
This directive was made as parliament was considering the report on the appalling state of Abim hospital which, besides lacking basic facilities, has neither running water nor electricity.
“As you enter the hospital, you are welcomed by a heavy stench. It is because of this that they gave us nose covers. There is no functional toilet. The hospital mattresses are rotten. It is not worth to be a hospital,” said MP Medard Bitecherezo as he read the report.
Parliament unanimously adopted the report which requires government to urgently earmark funds and renovate the hospital.
The committee also wants punitive measures to be undertaken against the district health officer and the Chief Administrative Officer for neglecting the hospital and sleeping in houses meant for the doctors.
In the report, the local leaders said they believe government has deliberately neglected Abim hospital.
In debating the report, MPs concurred that the situation at the health facility is the same in all the other district hospitals in the country.
Busongora County South MP Boaz Kafuda (NRM) said government should apologize to the Abim people for putting their lives at risk by “sanctioning” their hospital not to have electricity and water.
The minister for Northern Uganda Rebecca Otengo blamed local governments for the dilapidated state of district hospitals.
She criticized local leaders in the northern region for being corrupt and arrogant to the extent that many sleep in houses meant for doctors.
But Bufumbira County North MP John Kamara faulted minister Otengo and the Executive for failing to reign in on these leaders yet they are under direct supervision by the central government.
Calling it a balanced and good report, the health minister Ruhakana Ruganda admitted that most hospitals in the country are in a sorry state.
“It is hard to recruit and retain health workers in Uganda because remuneration is not as good as it is in other countries,” he said.
The minister added: “We have limited resources which have been allocated to other priorities. The health sector will benefit from the improved economic environment arising from the prioritization of other sectors.”
He said government is aware there are administrative bottlenecks in the central and local governments which are hampering effective service delivery in the health sector and other sectors.
Rugunda also regretted to note that whereas they had secured a loan of US90 million dollars from the World Bank to renovate 17 hospitals, including Abim hospital, the loan had been terminated after Uganda passed the Anti-homosexuality Bill.