Uganda: MPs Query Expenditure of Intern Doctors’ Allowances

Kampala, Uganda — Lawmakers have put the former Executive Director (ED) Mulago National Referral Hospital, Dr. Byarugaba Baterana on the spot over the expenditure of Shs206 million meant for allowances for medical interns and senior health officers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Government remitted Shs3.8 billion for allowances for intern doctors and senior health workers during the Covid-19 outbreak in the 2020/2021 financial year.

MPs on the Committee of Public Accounts (Central Government) however, learnt that out of the Shs3.8 billion, Shs206 million was spent on contact tracing, sample collection, case management and surveillance for Covid-19.

This was during a meeting with Byarugaba on 08 June 2022 who was responding to the qualified opinion of the Auditor General’s report.

Committee Chairperson, Medard Sseggona asked the former ED whether contact tracing or case management were part of the job description of medical interns and the health workers.

He also asked Mulago Hospital management to produce bank statements, names and contacts of the beneficiaries of the funds adding that previous inquiries into such diversions were marred by fraudulent expenditures.

“We shall examine lists against bank statements,” Sseggona said.

He also directed the hospital’s management to provide a letter from the Ministry of Finance allowing them to divert the funds.

Mary Begumisa, Sembabule District MP said there was need to ascertain if the funds were used for contact tracing, case management and surveillance for Covid-19 as alleged by management.

“It is important that we sample a few recipients, call their phone numbers such that we see if you did not pay people who were seated in board rooms,” Bemugisa said.

Tororo District Woman MP, Sarah Opendi wondered if the money for medical interns and health workers was part of the reported Covid-19 relief funds unlawfully spent.

“We need to know if this was a request from Mulago Hospital. It was reported that there was a committee which would sit and sometimes send money without entities expecting it,” said Opendi.

Byarugaba who fell short of justifying the diversion said that the money was spent on staff who supported contact tracing, case management and surveillance during the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak.

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