Dr Atwine Provides Accountability for COVID-19 Funds; Slams Fake News Campaign

The Health Ministry Permanent Secretary (PS), Dr Diana Atwine, has this Sunday provided accountability for the billions of shillings provided to her docket to combat the Coronavirus pandemic, saying, “not a single coin was lost.”

Atwine’s statement comes just days after former presidential spokesperson Tamale Mirundi accused the Ministry’s leadership of mismanaging funds earmarked for fighting the novel virus.

“We cannot and will never steal any government money. If you steal any government money that is meant to support the vulnerable, that is a curse,” said Atwine.

“So Ugandans listening to us we have not stolen any money as alleged by negative forces. They have no facts but rumors,” said Atwine who has in recent weeks been a target of what officials described as a fake news campaign.

“Some of us are driven by passion, commitment and values. We are ready to account for every single coin given to us,” said Atwine, who previously headed a desk tasked with investigating theft of drugs from public health facilities.

The PS also spoke about the inadequate protection gear for health workers in several parts of the country. 

She said the Ministry of Health was implementing a bi-weekly delivery system of PPEs to districts and Points of Entry to ensure adequate supplies are available for health worker protection.

50% of laboratory testing kits and sample collection materials have been supported by donors.

“However, laboratory test kits delivery has been slow due to the global demand, reduction of cargo carriers; and global consortium distribution limits on the quantities of testing kit allocation for countries,” she added.

Atwine revealed that Shs 44bn was spent on the installation of intensive Care Unit Equipment.

This includes 109 ICU beds and accessories which have been procured of which 39 will be delivered end of June.

Two additional Oxygen Plants were procured for Mulago National Referral Hospital and Entebbe Referral Hospital and are expected in June.

She also disclosed that the Ministry spent Shs 3.9bn on salaries for 546 staff who were recruited on contract.

These include 56 Epidemiologists, 18 Medical Officers Special Grade, 68 Medical Officers, 74 Nursing Officers, 80 Nursing Officers for Critical Care, 30 Assistants and 10 Enrolled Nurses/ Midwives.

Others are 10 Ambulance assistants, 5 Pyschiatric Clinical Officers, 4 Aneasthetic Officers, 10 Laboratory Technicians,10 drivers, 50 Call Center Agents, 27 Airport Screening Agents , 21 Rapid Response (Alert) Officers  and 26 Quarantine Cleaners among others.

Atwine also spoke about reports that Shs 5bn was paid to one hotel for quarantine services.

“Cabinet directed us to quarantine all travelers. Most hotels declined for fear of COVID19 but a few accepted,” said Atwine.

”Allegations that we paid Shs 5bn to one hotel are not true. We’ve paid a total of 2.2bn to all hotels used as quarantines centres,” she emphasised.

“As we close, I want to appeal to the public to avoid spreading wrong propaganda. You people we have families. Please don’t break us by demonizing us. We want to serve but please don’t slander us. Seek clarity before spreading rumors,” she said.

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