Mukono District leaders and their Mukono Municipality counterparts are at loggerheads over the management of Mukono General Hospital.
Government elevated Mukono Health Centre IV to a general hospital on July 1.
Although the facility, which is located in the centre of Mukono Town, has been under the management of the municipality, by law, general hospitals are under the management and supervision of districts.
“We are happy that government gave us a hospital for better health services. But there is controversy regarding who will manage it because the ministry [Health] didn’t not give us any guidelines,” Mr Andrew Ssenyonga, the Mukono District chairperson, said on Tuesday.
“Regardless of who is to manage it, the facility will serve all people in the area,” he added.
Given the overwhelming number of patients the facility receives, Mukono Municipal authorities have for the past eight years been making passionate pleas to the government to elevate Mukono Health Centre IV to a general hospital.
Mr Fred Kagimu, the Mukono Municipality mayor, said he has no problem with the district managing the hospital but he would be happy if government allows the municipal authorities to continue supervising the facility.
“We have for a long time been managing it so we have the experience,” he said.
Mr James Nkaata, the Mukono chief administrative officer, said the controversy on the hospital management arises from its uniqueness given the fact that many hospitals were established before some towns where they are located became municipalities.
“We have on several occasions gone to the ministry [Health] for guidance on the matter [management of the facility], but we have not yet received any communication,” Mr Nkaata said.
“It seems the ministry assumed that all hospitals are the same in management,” he added.
The Ministry of Health spokesperson, Mr Emmanuel Ainebyoona, asked both parties to remain calm, promising that they will give their position on the matter soon.
“The transition is a process and this matter will be resolved. But I will seek more information from the permanent secretary,” Mr Ainebyoona said.
For years, the facility has been ranked among the best in the country.
Dr Geoffrey Kasirye, the officer in-charge of the general hospital, said on average the facility attends to more than50,000 cases a year and handles between 7,500 and 8,000 deliveries a year.
He explained that a lot of work is being done at the facility to enable it meet the hospital status.
“The elevation is a big relief to us since for long we had been operating as a hospital although the staff, medical equipment and structures were not enough.
However, we are going to recruit more staff and the funds for buying drugs are going to increase,” he said. Dr Kasirye said they do not have an ambulance but hope to get one given the new status.
He added that the first phase of constructing the outpatient department is complete and management expects Shs750m from government to start the second phase.
Recently, Dr Diana Atwine, the Ministry of Health permanent secretary, visited the facility and pledged that government will put up all the required facilities to ensure better services.
The demand to have Mukono Health Centre IV elevated to a general hospital started about six years ago. In 2013, the leaders applied to the Health ministry to have the unit upgraded and in 2015, President Museveni officiated at the ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of the hospital, but it didn’t take off.
The health facility attends to at least 200 outpatients every day from the districts of Mukono, Buvuma, Buikwe, Kayunga and parts of Wakiso. In 2016, it handled 6,322 deliveries and 1,500 caesarean sections.
Elevation of Mukono Health Centre IV to a hospital brings the number of hospitals in Mukono District to two. Another one is a Catholic Church-run hospital, St Francis Naggalama in Nakifuma County.
When Buikwe District was carved out of Mukono District in 2000, the latter remained without a general hospital after Kawolo Hospital was taken by Buikwe District.