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Saturday, December 3, 2022

REVEALED: Here’s the real truth about reports of four Mbale Ambulances, Fuel Money that reportedly disappeared in thin air

Uganda’s Ministry of Health (MoH) is on the spot after the Parliamentary Covid19 Taskforce reportedly discovered that Mbale Regional Referral Hospital currently operates with only four ambulances, instead of the eight allocated to it.

The hospital director, Dr Emmanuel Tugaineyo, reportedly told the Parliamentary Covid19 Taskforce team visiting the health facility that “even the four ambulances lack funds for daily operations.”

In response, the MP leading Parliamentary Covid19 Taskforce leading the delegation of MPs, Dr Patrick Mutono (Butebo County), summarized the challenges in the region.

“The ministry of Health told us they had given ambulances but everywhere we go, they are asking us where are the ambulances, they don’t see them. So we’re waiting for a report from them and then we can show the ministry of Health because like Mbale Regional hospital, I think they said they have two or something and that is to cover the entire region, Mutono said.

“And then they have no fuel for these ambulances, maintenance of these ambulances is an issue and the ICU nurses are attributing to the very sick patients coming in because of lack of ambulances, lack of ambulances and the patients are poor they don’t have money.”

According to Timothy Batuwa, the Jinja West MP, the number plates of the ambulances as submitted by the ministry of Health are: UG 488N for Mbale City and supposed to be for Mbale Hospital, UG 6748M for Mbale Regional Referral Hospital,
UG 6740M supposed to be at Mbale hospital serving Bugonkho South, Mbale District.

“The 4th is UG 6806M supposed to be with Mbale regional hospital serving Mbale city, the fifth one is UG 6834M is supposed to be with Mbale hospital serving Manjiya and Bududa district. The sixth one is UG 6835M serving Namisindwa and Bubulo. The seventh one; UG 6860M is supposed to be in Budaka district but stationed here Mbale regional Referral Hospital, the eighth one, UG 6861, this one is for Bukedi region,” said Batuwa.

But insisted he he had no knowledge of the ambulances.

“I am hearing it from here that we have eight ambulances, I will make a follow-up to understand where these ambulances are,” he said.

Mbale Industrial Division MP Karim Masaba noted that MoH budgets an estimated Shs800,000 for the daily operations of the ambulances “but these funds are not accounted for.”

Reports also indicated that over Shs272m meant for the servicing and facilitation of the ambulances had never been received by the hospital yet MoH records indicated the money had been disbursed.

But MoH said the money was supposed to take care of patients, and that each of the ambulances had a fuel card.

‘The Shs272m disbursement to the Regional Referral Hospitals was meant for patients’ care.
Ambulances were centrally deployed by Ministry of Health to the Mbale sub region to attend to the sub districts and highway needs,” read a short response by MoH.

“The ambulances were deployed to the entire Mbale subregion, not to based at the hospital. Each ambulance is deployed with a fuel card as and when need arises.
It is not true that Shs272m was sent to the Referral hospitals for fuel.”

PILOTING NATIONAL AMBULANCE SERVICE SCHEME

Later, the ministry issued a comprehensive statement on the matter, detailing the cost of running ambulances.

“The quote from the Covid19 Parliamentary Committee visit at Mbale Hospital on the amount of money allocated per ambulance per day was based on the response that the MoH made on the question at Parliament on ‘what it takes to run one ambulance in Kampala Metropolitan Area and Masaka Health Region and whether this can be replicated across the country,” explained MoH.

“Kampala Metropolitan Area and Masaka Health Region are serving as pilot areas for the Ministry of Health Emergency Medical Services Strategy which sets forth the establishment of the National Ambulance Service that is regionally coordinated.”

COST OF RUNNING AN AMBULANCE

According to the ministry, in the current second wave of Covid19, one requires Shs980,000 to run one ambulance in Kampala everyday.

This money buys 80 liters of fuel, pays risk allowances for two medical personnel, and foots bills for the decontamination of the vehicle.

The same amount is also spent on Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), oxygen cylinders, essential medicines, vehicle service, repair and maintenance.

“On average, each ambulance transports five patients, giving an average cost of Shs196,000 per patient,” the ministry further explained.

“For boat ambulances, the running costs are estimated at Shs1,405,000 per patient route.”

Emphasizing an earlier statement, MoH noted that “no funds were appropriated for the operation and maintenance of ambulances by Regional Referral Hospitals last year” since “the fuel used to run ambulances was on the central MoH budget.”

AND WHERE ARE THE FOUR ‘MISSING’ AMBULANCES?

According to MoH, Mbale Regional Referral Hospital coordinates ambulances in the 17 local governments in the region: 16 districts and ond city.

In May and June 2021, MoH says,
seven ambulances were allocated to the region “and placed in different districts.”

“The 8th ambulance for Budaka HCIV (Budaka district), has just been allocated from those at the centre,” added MoH.

“Due to the overwhelming number of cases in the second wave in Kampala Metropolitan Area, the handover of the ambulance was postponed until the situation is under control.

“We are observing the Covid19 pandemic curve in Kampala and when it flattens, the Budaka district ambulance will be handed over.”

Pearl Times Reporter
Pearl Times Reporterhttps://pearltimes.co.ug
Latest Uganda news, politics, business, health and entertainment coverage.

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