COVID-FUND: MoH refutes COVID Interventions Report by Ministry of Finance, calls it a planned & malicious attack in media

COVID-FUND: MoH refutes COVID Interventions Report by Ministry of Finance, calls it a planned & malicious attack in media

The Ministry of Health (MoH) has come up and responded to the report of the budget monitoring and accountability unit (BMAU) titled “covid-19 interventions report the financial year 2019/20 which revealed the COVID-19 misuse of funds in the bid to prevent COVID.

Earlier on this month many media houses and social media pages came out and wrote detailed articles exposing the MoH’s surplus expenditures on COVID-19 Patients’ meals, accommodation and other facilities, among others. This has left the two government entities at longer-heads over what MoH calls a plotted malice to tarnish their image.

In a report authored by a team led by Ms. Annette Mutoni Kyakuwa of the Budget Monitoring and Accountability Unit of the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (MoFPED), it was revealed that the Government ‘reportedly’ paid up to Ugx 105,000 for a plate of food for COVID-19 patients in Kampala.

The report continued to cite other resources, equipment and billions of money which it claims that MoH spent on various activities on uncoordinated dates which the Ministry refutes to be wrong.

In response to BMAU’s report, MoH has gone furious while asserting that the monitoring team raised a number of issues which have since become a subject of seemingly planned and malicious attacks against the Ministry of Health in mainstream and social media.

“We would like to also note that BMAU hurriedly released an incomplete and unsigned report in October 2020 to social media without receiving feedback from the Ministry of Health as it was expected,” MoH’s report acquired by CYCLONE TIMES read in parts.

“The Ministry of Health only noticed this report circulating on social media which the sector objected to in writing to MOFPED.” it added.

The threaded defence goes ahead to assert that the monitoring team states in its report that there was physical monitoring of the various interventions, yet most of their work was done over the phone and also promised to come at a later time to follow up.

It further states that even in areas where they did physical verification, information was obtained from junior officers who had little information to provide.

The documentary review of the procurement files that was done lacked clarity from contract managers hence the distortions in the report.

Instead of sending the report formally, the Commissioner in charge of Planning at the Ministry of Health received an unsigned copy via e-mail. However, to-date the Ministry of Health has never received an authentic and signed copy of this report.

The BMAU report states that the Ministry of Health received UGX 766.7 billion which was committed to the COVID-19 prevention and response interventions.

It further states that by end of June 2020, the Ministry of Health had received and spent UGX 264 billion from both Government and donors; UGX 119 billion from GOU, UGX 55 billion for Government World Bank’s Uganda contingency Response Component and UGX10 billion from GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance. Another amount totalling UGX 94.9 Billion was in the pipeline.

However, the MoH refutes the baseless figures in the report indicating that the UGX 51billion from Islamic Development Bank loan, Ministry of Health would like to clarify that these funds are still with the bank adding that;

The National Medical Stores (NMS) is procuring medical supplies for the COVID-19 Response and the funds will be expended as soon as the supplies are delivered.

MoH added that out of the UGX 55 billion from the World Bank, the Ministry of Health had spent UGX 13 billion as of June 2020 on Health workers’ allowances and Medical Supplies.

The Global Fund worth Ugx 28bn was never received by MOH, instead, they would procure commodities and deliver them to Uganda and by the end of September 2020 all these commodities had been delivered to the Ministry of Health.

They also noted that the support from GAVI was disbursed to Multilateral agencies (UNICEF and WHO);

Of the UGX 10 billion released by GAVI in June 2020, UGX 6.5 billion was disbursed to UNICEF to procure medical supplies while UGX 3.5 billion was disbursed to World Health Organization (WHO) for test kits and other activities.

This clears the fate that the UGX 10Bn had been spent before end of June.

Through a framework contract, the Ministry of Health contracted M/s Keba Investments Limited to provide food for the National Task Force, quarantine and treatment centers with provisions for breakfast at Shs5,000 Lunch and dinner at Shs20,000 respectively. 

However, according to the report, the cost of the supplied food varied as per the location like in Jinja food was supplied at Shs 15,000, Shs 62,000 in Arua, Shs 45,000 in Entebbe and Shs105,000 at Grand Global Hotel – Kampala.

MoH clarified that the quoted cost of UGX.105,000 was for full-board accommodation at the designated quarantine facility.

The fee included the cost of accommodation and all meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) but not only ‘a meal’ as quoted in the report.

“The Ministry of Health released funds to Regional Referral Hospitals and Local governments for meals for patients under isolation and persons who underwent quarantine. It therefore did not participate in selecting the suppliers,” the reported added.

BMAU report also asserted that MoH paid M/s Kirigime Guest House over Shs170million for quarantine services rendered to 86 travelers.

The cost per room at the Guest House was Shs60,000 exclusive of meals of Shs50,000 (breakfast and evening tea at Shs10,000 respectively; Lunch and dinner at Shs40,000).

The report questions the engagement of Kirigime guest house in Kabale District and further asks why the same measures were not undertaken in other points of entry.

The Ministry of Health refuted the allegations and confirmed that 86 Ugandans who were stranded abroad were dropped off at the border in Kabale District, adding that, it was more economical to quickly set up an institutional quarantine site rather than transporting all of them to Kampala.

The process of identifying a hotel (Kirigme guest house) was done by the Kabale District Taskforce to urgently accommodate the stranded nationals who returned through the Uganda-Rwanda border point at Katuna.

Giving a thorough coverage of funds allocation and procurement of the needed to attain a smoothing running of the COVID prevention, MOH also reported about the procurement and distribution of Megaphones clarifying on actuals expenditure as against in the BMAU’s report.

The report states that; “The contract for megaphones worth UGX 2.9 bn was signed on 11th May 2020.” The report further states that “MoH bought 108,863 megaphones at a unit cost of UGX 230,000 and 43,450 pieces of dry cells at UGX 10,000 each.

The MegaPhones were expected to facilitate communication of COVID-19 messages in all parishes across the country which were delivered on 22nd June 2020.

Yes, the Ministry of Health confirmed that the contract to supply the megaphones was worth UGX 2.9 Bn, (i.e. a total of 10,863 megaphones, 43,450 rechargeable and dry cell batteries) were procured.

This is contrary to the number of 108,863 megaphones quoted by the monitoring team in their report, which implied that the Government would have spent approximately UGX 25.47 Bn on the megaphones and batteries.

Something MoH called a gross misrepresentation of the facts regarding this procurement.

The report went ahead to confirm clarify about different procurement processes which included emergency ambulances and boats, beds and mattresses, oxygen plants, sleeper tents among others citing their believed factual figures as opposed to BMAU’s report.

In a strong point of sense, MoH extended that it is important to note that the total resources disbursed to Ministry of Health is UGX 174billion (UGX 119 billion from Government of Uganda and UGX 55 billion from World Bank) while the rest of the funding stated in the report did not come to the Ministry of Health.

Conclusively, MoH stands to extend that the other monies cited are either off-budget expenditure or future commitments. It should not be portrayed that all the entire money was disbursed by the Ministry of Health.

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News Writer | Editor @Cyclone Time - Interlet Limited. Passionate Writer, Tech fervent and Web Developer. WhatsApp: +256703525418

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