Gulu Regional Referral Hospital on the spot over misappropriation

In Summary
  • Whereas the hospital received 10 ICU beds, only four are functioning as an ICU, while other ICU equipment like monitors, ventilators, and ICU beds have been moved for other purposes.
Legislators on a tour of the Gulu Referral Hospital
Image: Courtesy

The Parliament Committee on Government Assurances and Implementation is investigating the circumstances surrounding the dismantling of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Gulu Regional Referral Hospital.

The probe comes after a visit by members of the Committee chaired by Dr.Abed Bwanika to follow up on government assurances and promises in the health sector,  new cities and districts.

The committee has established that whereas the hospital received 10 ICU beds, only four are functioning as an ICU, while other ICU equipment like monitors, ventilators, and ICU beds have been moved for other purposes around the hospital which has overtime crippled the ICU Unit.

Hon. Bwanika is demanding explanations from the hospital administration regarding the whereabouts of the ICU components and the reasons behind their dismantling.

"It is regrettable that expensive ICU equipment has been dispersed within the hospital, rendering the ICU ineffective, the individuals responsible appear unable to account for these items, some of which were repurposed as standard hospital beds," Bwanika says.

In 2019, Parliament approved a loan request, permitting the Government to borrow approximately Shs200 billion from the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank Group under the Intergovernmental Fiscal Transfers (UgIFT) Programme.

The funding was purposed for upgrading health centre II's to health centre III's in sub counties lacking government-owned health centre III facilities.

In 2021, a further loan request of Shs352.2 billion from the IDA was approved by Parliament to complete the upgrades, construct and equip new health centre III's, and recruit staff for all upgraded health centre II's, among other objectives. Government also procured ICU for all regional referral hospitals.

The committee’s deputy chairperson, Hon. Joyce Bagala, has expressed concern over the incomplete ICU units presented to the committee, noting discrepancies in the equipment supplied by the Japan International Cooperation Agency and the Government.

Reports indicated that senior hospital management had decided to redistribute some ICU components to various wards, including maternity, surgical, and emergency units after the end of COVID-19.

In response to the situation, the hospital's storekeeper, Robert Vupale, was escorted to the police station to record a statement on the dismantling of the ICU and the missing equipment.

Hon. Robert Ssekitoleeko (NUP, Bamunanika County, Luweero)is  proposing holding the entire hospital administration accountable for the ICU's degradation.

"The responsibility for this issue lies with all involved parties, including the director and technical staff managing the ICU. A comprehensive investigation should be conducted to address the breakdown in institutional management," proposes Ssekitoleeko

Following discussions, the committee has decided that the hospital's Director, Dr Peter Mukobi, currently away on official duties in Kampala, should report to the Gulu Central Police Station and record a statement regarding the situation before the Police can determine how to proceed with investigations into the matter.