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Defense Ministry On The Spot For Treating Army Patients At ‘Expensive’ Nakasero Hospital

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Chairperson, Nandala Mafabi (pictured) has given the Ministry of Defense and Veteran Affairs up to 5th December 2019 to present a list of all Army patients that received treatment from Nakasero Hospital in 2017/19 and their corresponding bills.

The directive was issued yesterday as officials from the Defense Ministry appeared before PAC to respond to audit queries raised in the 2017/2018 audit report by Auditor General, John Muwanga.

The Committee demanded the Ministry of Defense to produce a list of the beneficiaries, with MPs recommending for a refund of all the funds spent on these patients if the Ministry fails to present the list.

The Auditor General established that the 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, full blood count among others yet there were other public hospitals like Mulago Referral Hospital and Bombo Military Hospital from which an advantageous combination of cost, quality and sustainability could be attained.

Muwanga said the criteria for referral wasn’t clear as it seemed like most medication had been shifted from the military hospital to Nakasero hospital.

 “I was not availed with medical bill limit for different categories of staff. Referring staff to a private hospital without limits has resulted into over committing the Ministry as evidenced with a domestic arrear of Shs1.373bn at the beginning of the year under review,” the report says.

The Ministry explained that the UPDF officers are handled at their facilities.

However, due to inadequate capacity at these facilities; the Ministry refers patients to other facilities like Nakasero, UHI, Lubaga hospital, Kisubi, Lacor and Mengo hospital.

The UPDF further argued that Medical treatment is comprehensive requiring repeated investigations as progress of recovery is monitored. Mulago hospital is undergoing rehabilitation and re-equipping justifying referral to other hospitals, the Ministry said.

Edith Buturo, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Defense said that the Ministry is currently studying the option of health insurance scheme customized for UPDF and that the Ministry has also embarked on construction of the National Military Hospital at Mbuya and the project is expected to be completed by August 2020.

 “On completion, the military hospital is expected to significantly reduce costs currently spent on treatment of UPDF soldiers both locally and abroad,” Buturo said, adding: “ The Ministry is aware of the high cost of treatment in private hospital and therefore entered into memorandum of Understanding with both Government and private not for profit hospitals for referral of patients. These hospitals include Uganda Heart Institute, Uganda Cancer Institute, Lubaga, Kisubi, lacor and Mengo hospital.”

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