FDC’s presidential candidate Kizza Besigye visited Abim Hospital on Saturday 12th December 2015 during his campaign trail to the north bringing the hospital in national limelight. He decried its sorry state during a visit that resulted into the suspension of the nurses who showed him around. Days after Besigye’s visit, government announced the start of renovation works on the dilapidated facility.
The nurses Ms Santina Adong, Paska Akello and Immaculate Owili whose suspension was trending on social network sites like Facebook and Twitter picked the interest of the British Broadcasting Corporation Online (BBC).
Today, Police in Abim have arrested a BBC crew including reporter Catherine Byaruhanga (pictured) found filming outside Abim Hospital. Ms Byaruhanga was arrested with BBC cameraman Kelvin Brown, fixer Lawino Sam and driver Mahmoud Ahmed.
Two years ago, the Government of Uganda set aside 2.8 Billion shillings to renovate Abim Hospital, one of the biggest hospitals in the East. The hospital is meant to serve over four million people in Karamoja region.
According to the areas L.C.III Canceller Joseph Owona while speaking to Actionaid in 2014, Excel construction Company was contracted under very unclear procedures to carry out the renovations of the hospital. The firm supposedly carried out the work and even completed. They were awarded a certificate of completion.
When ActionAid Anti-Corruption Caravan reached the district, Mr. Owona challenged the media crew to visit the hospital. The situation is pathetic. The water and sewage system has broken down. The walls have major cracks. The ceiling is in pieces, and the bats have made it their home. Rats are also seen running up and down freely, as though it’s the visitors that have invaded their territory. The Caravan crew had questions. Wasn’t the state of this hospital posing more health risks to the patients? Unfortunately, there was no one to answer this question, as the hospital authorities shied away from making any comment.
The BBC crew was identified at police and is now being escorted to Kampala.