KAMPALA — The Ministry of Health has in a detailed statement responded to allegations of massive inflation of the pricing of the Covid-19 test kits — refuting reports of corruption in the process as malicious propaganda intended to cause mistrust and portraying a negative image of the sector.
Permanent Secretary Dr. Diana Atwine, in a press statement issued on Monday, denied all reports that suggested that officials under her lead were minting huge amounts of money in inflated Covid-19 test kits.
This response comes a day after a viral story — a joint investigation of the Sunday Monitor and investigative journalism initiative Vox Populi asserted the officials were profiteering by causing the nation massive financial loss.
The Sunday Monitor joint investigation by the East African Centre for Investigative Reporting’s (EACIR) online publication Vox Populi, indicated that in June, Lt. Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, the senior presidential adviser for special operations, directed ISO to ascertain the true cost of Covid-19 testing.
In their intelligence briefing sent to Gen. Kainerugaba, the country’s lead domestic spy agency found evidence that “the PS Ministry of Health in her rebuttal to claims made by the Kampala Central MP Muhammad Nsereko makes assertions that are mixed, factual and non-factual. The PS categorises the cost of Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test kits as per manufacturer’s cost of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and Sample collection, transportation medium and triple packaging.”
The Ministry has since denied any investigations by ISO and their Co- investigators.
“The Ministry of Health has not in any way been informed by these investigations and would there fore request Monitor Publication Ltd (the author of Sunday Monitor and their co- investigators to provide evidence of His Excellency the President’s instruction to share, in we didn’t receive any correspondences,” The ministry wrote, adding the that article which out them in the spotlight is full of inconsistencies and innacuracies as to who sanctioned the inquiry the inquiry, claiming there’s no evidence to that effect.
In her media statement, early in June, PS Dr Atwine gave the following costs for PCR Test Kits that the government of Uganda and development partners had procured, or were in the process of procuring; Altona PCR kits each procured at $25 (Shs92,000), GeneXpert kits each procured at $19.8 (about Shs72,900), ABI kits each procured at $17.2 (about Shs63, 300), COBAS 6800/8800 Kits each procured at $18.9 (Shs69,600).
But a dossier by ISO, quoted by The Sunday Monitor, indicates that Lt Gen Muhoozi was briefed that “The GeneXpert kits procured at $19.8 (Shs72, 900) per kit tally with the price in a quotation for the same that puts the price at $198 (Shs729,000) for a pack of 100 tests kits. The other prices for PCR test kits mentioned by the PS are in the range of the prices for the available PCR test kits on the market worldwide.”
In her defense, PS Atwine , has dispelled reports of massive inflation, describing the reports as untrue, malicious and imaginary propaganda.
She said the purported investigation was merely based on assumptions by the authors whom she has since tasked to provide documentary evidence indicating the said loss of about USD4.2m.