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Kasese MPs Salute Ayume’s Health Committee for Decision on Kilembe Mines Hospital

Florence Kabugho
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By Joseph Masereka

Members of Parliament from Kasese District have praised Charles Ayume’s Committee on Health for recommending the reactivation of the credit line for medical supplies to Kilembe Mines Hospital.

Kasese District Woman MP Florence Kabugho has told The Pearl Times that she and her colleagues in Parliament have been calling on government to intervene and ensure that the local population in the Greater Kilembe Valley get medical supplies despite the recent challenges with the privately-owned Kilembe Mines Hospital.  Kabugho called on government to expedite the process of reactivation of the credit line.

Her colleague Ferigo Kambale, the Kasese Municipality MP, hailed Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa for the plenary session that received and deliberated on the committee report. Kambale described the development as a dream come true for the health and safety of the local population in Kilembe and beyond. He also called for calm among the locals since Parliament has taken a clear position on the matter.

It should be remembered that on January26, 2023, residents of Kasese District appealed to Parliament to intervene in the fate of Kilembe Mines Hospital, whose structures were destroyed by the May 2020 floods after River Nyamwamba burst its banks. There had also been rumors that the government was planning to shift the hospital from the area.

The distraught residents lodged their appeal to the Committee on Health during the committee’s oversight visit to the rundown hospital.

“We cannot put the lives of our people, like our mothers who used to come to deliver from Kilembe, at risk. I request that you stand with us, Kasese leaders, to ensure that the image of government is protected by having this hospital functional,” said Eliphaz Muhindi, the Kasese District LCV Chairperson.

The locals were also aggrieved that the Ministry of Health, which initially supplied the hospital with essential medicines after the floods, withdrew support and only maintained funds for administration.

“You have seen the topography. People come from far and so when you cut off medicines, you declare death [for them]. Government is revamping other services after the floods – I hear they are looking for an investor to restore mining. Let them consider the hospital too,” said Kabugho.

Currently, only a small unit of the former hospital is hosted in a neighboring trading centre offering limited services.

The residents said their right of health has been denied as the hospital also served people from Busongora North with its 13 sub-counties and Busongora South with 10 sub-counties.

MORE ON THIS STORY FROM PARLIAMENT: HOUSE DISCUSSES KILEMBE HOSPITAL REPORT

Parliament has tasked the Ministry of Health to legitimize its partnership with Kilembe Mines Hospital in order to continue offering healthcare services to the people of Kasese.  Ayume, the Chairperson of the Committee, said that they established that the uncertainty of the legal status of Kilembe Mines Hospital after the expiry of the Tripartite Agreement on March 15, 2022 is putting people of Kasese at crossroads.

The committee’s report reveals that the hospital is managed by Kilembe Mines Limited, Kasese District Local Government and Kasese Municipal Council but it is operating informally, has no board, no laboratory accreditation documents, and official stamps.

“Kilembe Mines Limited wrote to the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) of Kasese District Local Government on February 05, 2022 requesting for continued partnership with the government in managing Kilembe Mines Hospital but no response has been received,” Ayume told Parliament. “The same request was transmitted to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health but there is no response to date.”

Ayume (Koboko Municipality – NRM) added that the CAO wrote to the Solicitor General seeking legal interpretation of the status of the hospital, but no response has come through so far.

The committee discovered that the hospital offers medical services to the people living along the ranges of Mt Rwenzori. It was established that it has no legal status within the government structure which has an impact on the management and resources for running the hospital.

MP Kambale told the House that it was important that the hospital credit line for medical supplies is reactivated. “The decision to deactivate the credit line for medicine after the floods really shocked us and it was as if the ministry had declared all of us dead. Our position as the leadership is that we need medical supplies to urgently be given to the hospital. Deciding to build the hospital is a long-term plan. We need medicine now,” he said.

His colleague Kabugho highlighted the issue of Rukoki Maternity Ward which got burnt 18 months ago. “Up to now, the government has done nothing to rehabilitate the ward.  It was the Rotary club and the people who fundraised to roof the ward. But women are still giving birth under trees,” she submitted.

The Minister of state for Health (General Duties), Anifa Kawooya, said that they have had several engagements with Kasese District leadership and that they are implementing some of the recommendations. She revealed that they are upgrading Rukoki Health Centre IV to a district hospital. “In the meantime, the ministry is putting up a health facility to serve the population of Kilembe,” she said.

Additional Reporting: Parliament of Uganda

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