Health committee calls for restoration of drug supplies to Kilembe hospital
The health committee of parliament has asked the Ministry of Health to reinstate Kilembe Mines Hospital on the list of facilities that qualify for essential medicines and health supplies. It comes almost a month after the Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary, Dr. Diana Atwine on December 02, 2022, communicated the decision to deactivate Kilembe Mines Hospital from the list of facilities that receive essential medicines and health supplies.
She said the facility had failed to utilize funds for essential medicines and health supplies during the first quarter of the financial year 2022/23 covering the period between July and September 2022. She subsequently asked the Executive Director of Joint Medical Stores to deactivate Kilembe Mines Hospital and directed that the money that was meant for the facility be reallocated to other facilities at HCIII, HCIV, and hospital levels, both in Kasese district and Kasese municipality.
The decision triggered strong opposition from the local leaders and residents in the district. On Wednesday, members of the health committee of parliament met with Kasese district officials, the community, and the staff of Kilembe mines hospital who suggested that the ministry reactivates the drug supply line to the facility in the meantime to save hundreds of people in the mountainous areas as they discuss other technical matters.
Joel Sebikali, the Deputy Health committee chairperson said that the committee will recommend to the ministry of health to reactive the drug supply line for the facility as they discuss the re-establishment of another fully functional hospital in the area.
He asked Kilembe Mines to put in writing its willingness to offer land to the government for the re-establishment of the facility and asked the district council to table a motion seeking the re-establishing of the same facility.
Elisa Rutahigwa, a member of the health committee said that whereas government plans to establish another facility in the area, that should not stop the supply of drugs to the existing one, which is handling patients. He however warned the local leadership to stop politicizing the issues of Kilembe Mines Hospital and focus on the greater goal of providing better health services to their community.
Col. Dr. Victoria Nekesa, who led the health committee said they will engage the ministry of health, and compile a comprehensive report for consideration by parliament. She, however, observed the need to continue supporting the facility with drugs and other essential items in the meantime.
The former Kasese woman MP and member of the Kilembe Mines Limited board Loyce Biira Bwambale said the pull and push over the hospital was a result of a poorly done transition process after the end of the tripartite agreement between the government, Kilembe Mines limited and Catholic Diocese last year. She revealed that the board is also dialoguing with the ministry to ensure drugs are supplied and appealed to local leaders in the district not to politicize the issues of kilembe.
Joseph Mafunguro from the Kasese people’s parliament-a local discussion group said that the government is spending over Shillings 15 billion in desilting river Nyamwamba and re-building schools that were destroyed by floods in the same areas and questioned the motive to shift the facility.
The Kasese municipality member of parliament Ferigo Kambale told the committee that the existence of structures offered by Kilembe Mines Limited to host the hospital is a clear indication that both the company and the community appreciate the value of such a big facility in their area.
Florence Kabugho, the Kasese Woman member of parliament said it was unfortunate for the whole ministry of health to take such a serious decision without engaging local leaders from the district. She narrated that hundreds of people living in the mountainous areas surrounding Kilembe are economically deprived and do not have the resources to travel to health centers that are over 15 KMs away from them.
The local community asked the committee to urgently make a report they can base on to pursue their demand for drug supplies at the facility.