The head of State House Health Unit, Dr Warren Namara, addresses journalists at Uganda Media Centre in Kampala yesterday. PHOTO / ABUBAKER LUBOWA.  


Inside the sickness at Mulago Hospital

What you need to know:

  •  The amount of money unaccounted for at Mulago, investigators from the State House Health Monitoring Unit say, is Shs28.8 billion, based on preliminary findings.

Investigators in the alleged fraud and impropriety at Mulago National Referral Hospital yesterday made their case in the court of public opinion even as lawyers representing the executive director, Dr Byarugaba Baterana, claimed a political witch-hunt against their client.

 The amount of money unaccounted for at Mulago, investigators from the State House Health Monitoring Unit say, is Shs28.8 billion, based on preliminary findings.

Once investigations are completed all suspects will be arraigned in court, the head of the unit, Dr Warren Namara said, yesterday.

 In April 2021, the monitoring unit investigated the hospital and focused on the management of essential medicines and health supplies, human resource and finance over four years.

 Investigators say they were tipped off by “numerous complaints” from hospital staff and concerned citizens about alleged gross mismanagement at the facility.

The findings were shared with the hospital administrators, Dr Namara said, but investigations continued after no satisfactory explanations were received.


He revealed that 65 staff, both serving and retired, were interviewed and statements recorded.

It was established that Shs974.3 million was unaccounted for or had been misappropriated between July 2019 and July 2021.

 The accounting officer also failed to notify the accountant general about missing vouchers

 In November 2016,  Mulago contracted two companies, Ms Setramaco International Ltd, and Ms Convention World Ltd, to provide a wide range of services such as laundry machines, sterile supplies, and steam boilers, among others.

 The investigation is looking into allegations that Mulago paid the two firms Shs20.5 billion based on forged job cards, work completion certificates and for duplicated activities, causing loss to government.

 The investigative team says they also verified purchases worth Shs1.4 billion made by the hospital from First Pharmacy under emergency orders, ostensibly after running out of supplies from the government-owned National Medical Stores.

 Verification conducted under the Burns Unit store at Kiruddu Referral Hospital when under Mulago Hospital established that only a small quantity of the purported deliveries made by First Pharmacy had been received.

Most of the other delivery notes from First Pharmacy indicating deliveries to have been made to the Burns Unit Store have since been denied by Kiruddu Referral Hospital, investigators say.

 During verifications at the bulk/central stores, it was established that funds worth Shs754 million were paid to First Pharmacy in 14 different transactions between December 2017 and May 2020 for untraceable supplies. Where the stores staff signed acknowledging receipt on the said deliveries and goods received notes generated, investigators say, there is no record that the said items were entered in the respective stock cards and issued out to different user units.

 The investigative team notes that items indicated on the First Pharmacy Delivery notes as having been supplied to the bulk store were the same supplies as what NMS delivers to the hospitals and dispenses to the public at no cost.

 Investigators found that Shs40.5m was paid by Mulago to First Pharmacy purportedly for purchase of medical supplies. Analysis of documents so far reveals that the said medical supplies were not delivered to the hospital.

 The unit also accuses Dr Baterana and others of allowing an “illegal operation” of private pharmacies within the hospital. Mulago Hospital management led by the executive director, they contend, entered into a 10-year memorandum of understanding and tenancy agreements with private pharmacies, Ecopharm and First Pharmacy to operate within the hospital preemies.

 They argue that the MoU and tenancy agreements between Mulago and the two private pharmacies were poorly executed and without clearance from the relevant government authorities. The pharmacies are operating without National Drug Authority licences.

 Due to these poorly executed MoUs and tenancy agreements, Ecopharm Pharmacy and First Pharmacy had defaulted on rent to the tune of Shs135 million and Shs67 million respectively by November 2021.

 Dr Baterana, who also doubles as the accounting officer, remains in the custody of the unit as the investigations continue. However, the unit’s executive director says they will follow the Constitution in regard to his right to be presented in court or released within 48 hours.

 This means Dr Baterana will be either charged before the Anti-Corruption Court today or granted a police bond like the other suspects that have been interviewed by the body.

 The holding charges currently preferred against him and others are fraudulent/false accounting, embezzlement, abuse of office and causing financial loss.

The others include the principal hospital administrator, the hospital engineer, the head of accounts, a senior accountant, an accounts assistant.

 Dr Namara dismissed, as baseless, allegations that the State House unit is doing the bidding of powerful individuals that want Dr Baterana and others out of Mulago.

 “We don’t fight people’s wars,” he said. “We are professionals and civil. If people have wars let them fight on their own. Interview [Dr Diana Atwine] or BB [Dr Baterana]; we are not working for anyone but Ugandans.”

 Dr Baterana’s lawyers led by Henry Kamagara say their client was taken against his will after availing some information the unit requested for. When the unit requested Dr Baterana to appear before it, his lawyers say they wrote back requesting he appears on February 28 but received no confirmation only for their client to be grabbed from his office.

 In the evening he was taken into cells at Jinja Road Police. His lawyers say they spoke to the DPC Jinja Road Police, Mr George Abaho, who assured them that he was in safe hands and would be produced for statement recording yesterday.

 He recorded the first statement in the absence of his lawyers. Two lawyers were present yesterday as he recorded another statement following discussions with the detectives attached to the unit.

 “We don’t know what is going on but we tried [reached out to] those people who arrested him. It is like they are punishing him and these are financial matters. Whereas he is the ED of Mulago hospital, he is accountable to the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament, Ministry of Finance and the Auditor General.  We are wondering why it is the health monitoring unit arresting him over such matters he is not supposed to be accountable for,” Mr Kamagara said.