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MPs incensed over failure to reopen Kilembe Mines Hospital

Members of the Committee on Government Assurances and Implementation inspecting the construction of Rukoki Health Centre IV in Kasese District

The prolonged reopening of Kilembe Mines Hospital in Kasese District which was washed away by floods, is taking a toll on the residents and has attracted the attention of Parliament.

In February 2023, government issued instructions to cease all financial assistance to the hospital. This directive was communicated by Health Minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, in a letter to the Chairperson of the Committee of Health. 

The decision was made due to the hospital’s susceptibility to flooding in the River Nyamwamba catchment area, which has led to recurrent damages to the property, notably in May 01, 2013, May 05, 2014, and most recently on May 07 and May 10 in 2020. 

In a meeting of the Committee on Government Assurance and implementation held at the Kilembe hospital with officials of the district and hospital on Friday, 06 April 2024 stakeholders were irked by the delay to operationalise the hospital.

Edson Kambere, an engineer from Kilembe Mines, emphasised the availability of land for the hospital’s reconstruction, stating that the necessary arrangements were made but communication from the Ministry of Health has been lacking. 

Richard Bomera, the LC3 Chairperson of Bulembia Division, provided detailed accounts of the efforts made to secure government support for the hospital.

He highlighted the challenges faced due to disruptions in the supply of medicines and the transfer of funds meant for Kilembe Mines Hospital to other facilities. He said that a Parliament resolution calling for operationalisation of the facility over two years ago has never been respected.

AUDIO: Richard Bomera

“The people continued struggling; none of the health facilities in the catchment of the six sub-counties was given even a single tablet.”

The Deputy Town Clerk, Zedekiah Kayiiri, reiterated administrative challenges regarding staffing and funding allocation, emphasising the need for clarity and adherence to the policies. 

Members of Parliament, including Hon. Ferigo Kambale (NRM, Kasese Municipality) expressed dismay over the Ministry of Health’s actions, labelling them as contemptuous of parliamentary decisions and detrimental to the healthcare needs of the community. 

AUDIO: Hon. Ferigo Kambale

“The move that Ministry of Health has taken is purely to close the hospital.”

Political tensions were also brought to light, with accusations against top leadership of the district for allegedly undermining efforts to reinstate the hospital, potentially due to political rivalries.

An emotional Hon. Florence Kabugho, the Kasese District Woman MP said the terrains of Kasese are very difficult to explore making it difficult to access services. 

“You come all the way from 17 kilometres deep from the mountain, and then when you reach Kilembe Mines Hospital, they tell you that this hospital is not working, go to Rukooki. If the river has flooded, where do you go?” She lamented.

AUDIO: Hon. Florence Kabugho

Hon. Sylvia Tumwekwase, the District Woman MP for Kamwenge added her voice to the chorus of concerns regarding the closure of the hospital. Drawing from her past involvement with an organisation that supported the hospital through result-based financing. 

She emphasised the critical role Kilembe Hospital played in providing healthcare to a substantial volume of patients within the region. 

Hon. Stephen Sserubula, the Lugazi Municipality MP, said Parliament will do what it takes to ensure the reinstatement of the hospital.

The committee’s deputy chairperson, Hon. Joyce Bagala, stated that the committee’s role was to follow up on the promise by government to construct Kilembe Mines Hospital, and they will make sure to follow up on this pledge to the latter.

She said when the committee reconvenes in Kampala, they will interface with the Ministry of Health to question them on the failure to open the hospital.

“We are going to follow up on this matter. Matters of health are of concern to all of us and working with all your Members of Parliament and others, we are going to ensure that you get these services,” Bagala, also the Mityana District Woman MP, said.

The hospital that employed 82 staff now has only 14 ocassioned by the funding gaps.

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