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100 ghost health centres uncovered

By Vision Reporter

Added 24th November 2009 03:00 AM

OVER 100 Government health centres listed by the Ministry of Health as recipients of drugs and funding are non-existent, according to investigations by the National Medical Stores (NMS).

OVER 100 Government health centres listed by the Ministry of Health as recipients of drugs and funding are non-existent, according to investigations by the National Medical Stores (NMS).

BY CONAN BUSINGE

OVER 100 Government health centres listed by the Ministry of Health as recipients of drugs and funding are non-existent, according to investigations by the National Medical Stores (NMS).

The findings were announced yesterday by the newly appointed NMS general manager, Moses Kamabare, during the Ministry of Health stakeholders’ conference of at Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala.

Kamabare told The New Vision after the conference that they had so far discovered so about 100 ‘ghost’ health centres.

But he believed the number could go up.

There are about 2,400 Government health centres that receive drugs from the National Medical Stores.





“The database of health centres from the ministry shows units which do not actually exist,” said Kamabare.

“Most of these health units have been getting drugs and Government funds.”

He could not readily avail the list of non-existent units but said they were found in almost all districts in the country.

According to NMS, most of the non-existent facilities are health centres II and III, which fall under the district health officers.

It is suspected that the fraud is the work of officials in the districts collaborating with officials from the Ministry of Health.

The registration of health centres is done at the recommendation of the district health officers, who are also responsible for supervision.

Kamabare called the findings “devastating”.

He noted that more ghosts could surface among the government-sponsored Private-Not-for-Profit health
units.

The latter are privately owned but are Government accredited health units which receive essential
drugs from the Joint Medical Stores.

The public-private partnership for health programme started in 2000.

A source at the National Medical Stores said they discovered the existence of the ghost units by accident.

A senior NMS staff saw the name of a health centre located in his home area where there had never been
one.

“We decided to deliver the drugs ourselves. When we reached the area, we failed to locate the health centre,” the source said.

The investigations, that are still ongoing, are handled jointly by the Internal Security Organisation and the recently established Drugs Inspection Unit, headed by Dr. Diana Atwine.

The National Medical Stores wrote to all district health officers three months ago, instructing them to reconcile their databases but only a few responded, Kamabare said.

The Director of Clinical and Community services and the commissioner incharge of pharmaceuticals were also asked to provide details but have failed to do so up to now.

“We have to make sure the health centres’ list is cleaned by the closure of this year before we continue
with drug supplies,” Kamabare noted.

In the past, the Government health centres received 70% in direct funds, sent to district health officers, while the rest was in the form of drugs under the credit line.

This financial year, only 30% was sent as direct funds, while 70% was switched to the credit line budget.

The Government has allocated sh18b this year for the direct supply of drugs from the National Medical
Stores.

President Yoweri Museveni on Monday issued a stern warning to drug thieves, saying the law would be changed to deny them bail since they indirectly kill people.

100 ghost health centres uncovered

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