Uganda. Authorities at the World Health Organisation (WHO) have ordered Ministry of Health officials to refund Shs1.2b aimed at improving healthcare services in the country.
The money meant for boosting health service delivery chain in the various districts, remains unaccounted for.
Sunday Monitor understands that the political leadership in the ministry asked for more time to look into this matter as pressure mounts from WHO over the missing funds.
Pressure from WHO
Speaking during a meeting of district health officers and district education officers organised by the Ministry of Local Government in Kampala on Friday, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr Diana Atwine, confirmed that “the ministry is being asked to refund Shs1.2b to the World Health Organisation because it has not been accounted for right from the districts.” The PS talked of lack of accountability for funds disbursed to districts to deliver health services and reprimanded district leaders on the abuse of government vehicles.
Dr Atwine threatened to recall all vehicles used by district health departments across the country “because they are being seized by politicians and Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs)” and revealed that she had already recalled one vehicle from Kole District.
“I have already signed a letter to recall the health departmental car for Kole District because it had been grounded after its battery was removed to be used in another car. I am going to recall more cars because they are not being used for doing health work,” Dr Atwine said.
The PS said the car being recalled from Kole District was donated by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI).
She said health service delivery in districts is being hampered by politicians who use the department’s cars to do their errands, adding that Kole district is doing badly in immunisation.
“These cars must be recalled and I am not apologetic. So the CAOs must take charge of the equipment and vehicles given to their districts,” she said.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government, Mr Benjamin Kumumanya, who convened the meeting, said the blame for abuse of government vehicles meant for monitoring of health service delivery in the districts should be placed on the CAOs, who he said have for one year failed to declare the status of government fleet in their districts.
“About a year ago, we wrote to the CAOs to provide statistics for the vehicle fleet so that we know which district is lacking what vehicle but instead of giving us data, they are quiet,” Mr Kumumanya said.
Mr Kumumanya, who conceded that most of the local governments do not have enough vehicles, explained that “the issue of transport is being debated at the central government level.”
He revealed that currently, the ministry is processing the procurement of cars and motorcycles for production departments for all districts and sub-counties.
Mr Kumumanya also emphasised the need for district education officers and district health officers to inspect and monitor schools and health facilities to ensure effective service delivery.
The PS asked the local governments to ensure that no more private schools open for business before being fully licensed by the Ministry of Education and Sports.
The director of education services in the Ministry of Education and Sports, Ms Kedress Turyagenda, who represented the PS, Alex Kakooza, asked the district education officers to develop strategies for working with key stakeholders to get good results in government schools.