When COVID-19 emerged, the government of Uganda made a commitment to provide face masks to its population to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.
Through the Ministry of Health, government was to provide face masks to all Ugandans above the age of 6 years and the budget required a sum of Shs 81 billion which was requested for from the Ministry of Finance.
Months later, however, a Saturday Vision article of October 31st 2020, “Finance raises red flags over covid-19 irregular supplies” queried the authenticity of the procurement process of the masks, which the Health Ministry has since given a clarification on.
“The Ministry of Health would like to clarify to the public that there are different types of masks such as surgical masks, N95 and non-medical masks which are all priced differently,” reads a statement issued by the Office of the Permanent Secretary- Public Relations, Ministry of Health.
“For avoidance of doubt, the average market price for N95 is Shs 5000. Ministry of Health bought it at Shs 4,946 lower than the market price. This price is much cheaper than what the global market offers at Shs 10,000 for the same mask,” the statement further reads.
The statement also indicates that of the Shs 81 billion budgeted for procuring the masks, only Shs 33bn was released in July 2020.
“Contrary to the report, suppliers were contracted under framework arrangement to supply the masks and a call of orders was issued. Each mask was procured at Shs 2,400. To date, Ministry of Health has distributed over 26.4 million masks worth Shs 63.3bn which is far more than the 33bn provided,” the health ministry clarified.
Among others issues, the statement also addresses the funds which were released to the health sector to fight covid-19.
The Ministry notes that by June 30, 2020, they had received Shs 119bn supplementary budget contrary to the 766bn alleged by the article.
“The rest were off budget commitments and expenditures by partner organisations which were expected to be spent over the 18-month period.”