Police in Kasese on Monday foiled a demonstration by residents of Bulembia division and surrounding places who are protesting the decision by the Ministry of Health to withdraw the credit line for medical supplies to Kilembe Mines Hospital.
Police intercepted the residents as they planned to march from the hospital gate to the office of Kasese Chief Administrative Officer-CAO in Rukoki.
They subsequently arrested the Kasese municipality mayor, Chance Kahindo, the Bulembia division LC III chairperson, Richard Bomera, together with others.
Police used tear gas to disperse residents who attempted to proceed with the planned demonstration.
Julius Baguma Bwambale, one of the residents said they wanted to get a detailed explanation on why the Ministry of Health took the decision to withdraw drugs from Kilembe mines hospital yet it’s the only large facility in the area serving over eight sub-counties.
He added that the president pledged 2 billion Shillings for the reconstruction of the facility but they have never received any update on the whereabouts of this money.
“The hospital has been here for almost 54 years, it serving eight sub counties so we are requesting the office of the president and the anti-corruption unit to intervene…“Bwambale said
Joyce Maloba from road barrier cell criticizes the ministry of health for acting without coming to the ground to establish the health needs of the local community.
“Our demands have been improving and re-establishing our facility, so any other directive other than that is putting our lives at stake…” Maloba expressed her concern
The Rwenzori East Regional Police Commander-RPC, Godfrey Achiria said, they had to intervene because the RDC and the area member of parliament had planned a meeting with the permanent secretary in the ministry of health and there was no justification for the residents to hold a demonstration.
He also faulted the members for failing to write to the police about their planned demonstration.
“Go to lawful businesses because as we talk the RDC communicated with the area MP who are going to meet the PS ministry of health to see how they are going to handle the situation… ” The RPC requested residents
The Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary Dr. Diana Atwine wrote to the Executive Director of Joint Medical Stores on December 2, 2022, asking for the deactivation of Kilembe Mines Hospital from the list of facilities that qualify for essential medicines and health supplies.
According to the communication, the hospital had failed to utilize funds for essential medicines and health supplies during the first quarter of the financial year 2022/23 covering the period between July and September 2022.
The facility has been getting an annual allocation of about 354 million Shillings.
The Ministry directed that the money should be reallocated to other facilities at HC III, HC IV, and hospital levels in both in Kasese district and Kasese municipality, a decision which has sparked angry reactions from different stakeholders.
Kilembe mines hospital permanently shifted to Kasese town in June 2021 after two waves of flash floods on May 7 and May 10 2020. However, a Tri-partite arrangement between the Government of Uganda, Kilembe Mines Ltd and Kasese Catholic Diocese came to an end in April last year.
Kilembe mines then offered some of its old structures adjacent to those destroyed by floods to accommodate the hospital while the diocese opted to continue its services as St. Mary’s Hospital in Kasese town.
The facility serves a population of more than 500, 000 people in seven sub-counties and one division of Mbuga, Rukoki, Nyakabingo, Mahango, Kilembe, part of Bugoye sub-counties, Bulembia and Central division of Kasese municipality.