UPDF denies blocking NUP-branded ambulances at military hospitals

MP for Katikamu South, Mr Hassan Kirumira, who subscribes to the National Unity Platform (NUP) party, said the ambulances branded with the NUP posters only serve to bridge the transport challenges in evacuating the patients to the health facilities. PHOTO/ FILE

What you need to know:

  • Lt Col Chris Magezi, the UPDF Land Forces spokesperson, said the army understands and takes into account all guidelines regarding operation of ambulances as recommended by the Ministry of Health.

The Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) has distanced itself from allegations of denying ambulances affiliated to political parties access to the general military hospitals.
“We treat everyone and never ask for party affiliations. Why should we stop ambulances if they are doing the right job? However, we reiterate our resolve that security protocols must be respected to access military medical services,” a statement signed by the UPDF spokesperson, Brig Gen Felix Kulayigye, reads in part.

The statement comes days after the MP for Katikamu South, Mr Hassan Kirumira, claimed that ambulances branded with posters of Opposition politicians had been denied access to the Bombo Military Hospital in Luweero District.
In an earlier interview, Mr Kirumira, who subscribes to the National Unity Platform (NUP) party, said the ambulances branded with the NUP posters only serve to bridge the transport challenges in evacuating the patients to the health facilities.

“The ambulances are not allowed to go past the quarter guard because they are branded. The concern would be about saving life and not the vehicle. The patients are made to move out of the ambulances at the gate,” he said.
However, Brig Gen Kulayigye in his statement clarified that all vehicles, including ambulances have to be checked before accessing any military installation worldwide and that Uganda is not an exception.
He said some people would wish that they could access such facilities without the scrutiny of the guards.

“This is unacceptable since it may allow easy infiltration by probable security threats or their sympathisers,” the army spokesperson said.
According to the UPDF, military hospitals countrywide offer health services to about 78 percent civilians.
Mr Moses Ssebalamu, the LC3 chairperson for Wobulenzi Town Council in Luweero, had equally complained that he was a victim after accompanying a patient in an ambulance that belonged to Mr Kirumira.
“We have always been stopped at the gate of the barracks when we use the ambulance that is branded with political party colours. We are told to get out of the ambulance. We are forced to use a stretcher to ensure that the patient gets to the hospital,” he said.

But Lt Col Chris Magezi, the UPDF Land Forces spokesperson, said the army understands and takes into account all guidelines regarding operation of ambulances as recommended by the Ministry of Health.
“When we find out that an ambulance carrying a patient is against particular guidelines, including carrying sensitive political messages yet the UPDF is non-partisan, we have a reason to put everything in order. Our message is clear to all politicians that try to break the set guidelines,” he said.

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