MPs ask Museveni to block closure of Kilembe Hospital

Officials from the central government and Kasese District inspect Kilembe Mines Hospital in Kasese District in April 2024. PHOTO/ALEX ASHABA

What you need to know:

  • Two years ago, the Ministry of Health withdrew all staff and medical supplies from the facility over consistent flooding.

Members of Parliament hailing from Kasese District have petitioned President Museveni, urging him to intervene and prevent the imminent closure of Kilembe Mines Hospital.

In their April 24 petition, the lawmakers said over the past two years, the hospital has experienced a downward spiral that may lead to its closure without an alternative facility to serve the population that has depended on it for generations.

“Your Excellency, as the elected representatives of the people, we are compelled to inform you of this sensitive matter concerning the wellbeing of our constituents. We appeal to you as the Fountain of Honour to secure the community by ensuring the continued operation of the hospital so that they may continue to benefit from the services provided by the government, just like other Ugandans,” the petition reads in apart.

This comes after the Ministry of Health in 2022 withdrew all staff and medical supplies from the facility. This followed consistent flooding from the nearby River Nyamwamba, causing damage to vital infrastructure at the facility.

Two of the petitioners, Mr Thembo Gideon Mujungu (Busongora South) and Mr Ferigo Kambale (Kasese Municipality), said the facility serves more than 200,000 people in Butembia Division and the sub-counties of Mbunga, Kilembe, Muhango, Rukoki, and Nyakabingo who are currently deprived of health services.

The Ministry of Health plans to upgrade Rukoki Health Centre IV to general hospital status and to construct a health centre III in Bulembia Division.

Although there is construction of two blocks being undertaken by the engineering brigade of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces to the tune of Shs2 billion, the MPs said this will take time, leaving residents to suffer.

Two years after the government’s withdrawal of support staff from Kilembe Mines Hospital, patients who still visit the facility are attended to by skeleton staff amid a dire shortage of medical supplies.

This was caused by the government’s withdrawal of a drug credit worth Shs353.5 million from Joint Medical Stores to the facility.

Mr Richard Bomera, the chairperson of Bulembia Division, wondered why the government is rushing to close Kilembe Mines Hospital before putting in place alternative health centres.

Dr Bernard Balyana, the medical superintendent of Kilembe Mines Hospital, at the beginning of last month, told a Parliament oversight committee on government assurance and implementation that had visited the facility that before the government’s decision, they had a total of 82 staff members.

However, he said now the entire hospital is being run by only 14 staff comprising two doctors, two midwives, an anaesthetic assistant, a laboratory technician, and a visiting orthopaedic surgeon.

The hospital has been grappling with a severe shortage of drugs since May 2022, coinciding with the expiration of the tripartite agreement between the facility, the Ministry of Health and the Uganda Catholic Medical Bureau.

Following the expiry of the agreement, Kasese Catholic Diocese initiated Mt St Mary’s Hospital located in Kasese Town.