KAMPALA – Members of Parliament on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Tuesday, November 5, tasked officials from the Ministry of Defence and Veterans Affairs to explain how they accumulated a debt of UGX1.3 billion on soldiers’ medical bills at Nakasero Hospital.
The chairperson of PAC, Mr Nandala Mafabi (Budadiri West) asked the Defence officials led by Lt Gen Joseph Musanyufu, the UPDF Joint Chief of Staff, and Ms Edith Buturo, the Permanent Secretary, to explain why the ministry bypassed public hospitals such as Mulago to go to a private hospital.
The MPs were responding to queries raised in the 2017/2018 Auditor General’s report.
According to the report, the Defence ministry referred staff to Nakasero hospital which is a private for-profit facility and known to be fairly expensive as the first option even for medication such as Hepatitis B vaccine, urinalysis and full blood count among others. He says hospitals like Mulago and military facilities were better options.
In response, Ms Buturo explained that the cases taken to private facilities like Nakasero, Lubaga, Kisubi, Lacor and Mengo hospitals can’t be treated in Mulago and UPDF health facilities.
She added that the ministry incurs huge expenses in treatment across the country and abroad for the soldiers and their families.
Ms Buturo said the Ministry of Defence is currently studying the option of health insurance scheme customised for UPDF but also emphasized that the finalization of the National Military Hospital at Mbuya in August 2020 will solve the challenges.
However, Mr Mafabi directed the team to present to the committee a detailed list of the beneficiaries of Nakasero hospital treatment by December 5. He also demanded the medical details for the different categories of staff.