The Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary Dr Diana Atwine has dismissed claims that her Ministry paid socialite Shanitah Namuyimbwa aka Bad Black for her advert in which she called on sex workers to keep away from truck drivers as a way of stopping the spread of COVID-19.
Recently, Bad Black threatened to drag the ministry to courts of law for alleged refusal to pay her 500 million shillings which she demanded over her advert.
The Ministry of Health and Precision Media, a company that contacted Bad Black for the advert that would later be donated to Ministry of Health maintained their position that Bad Black’s services were voluntary and they never signed any contract with her.
On Saturday, Bad Black was seen with events promoter and staunch ruling NRM mobilizer Balaam Barugahare signing papers confirming that she received the payment in full.
She went ahead and said that was now at good terms with the Ministry of Health since she had received her payment.
However, while giving accountability for COVID-19 funds on Sunday, the Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary Dr Atwine said that the money that was paid to Bad Black did not come from the Ministry of Health.
Atwine said the money rather came from “friends” of the NRM party who contributed.
“I cannot really comment about the money because Ministry of Health of Health did not participate in paying the money but what I saw on social media is that friends of NRM came together and contributed the money,” she said.
She added, “I think it would not be proper for us to pay someone we do not have a contract with. That is not allowed in Government. You don’t handle Government resources like that. So it was not possible. That’s why Ministry of Health was not involved. The people who contacted her assumed that she was like any other Ugandan who would want to contribute her voice to call upon Ugandans to be responsible.”
Indeed, no official from the Ministry of Health was seen participating the signing.
On the issue of high costs of COVID-19 test kits, Atwine said the 65 dollars was just an estimate.
President Museveni in one of his addresses to the nation on COVID-19 asked Health Ministry officials how much a single test would cost and Atwine said 65 dollars equivalent to 250,000 Uganda shillings.
Atwine on Sunday explained that the process of testing is wide and therefore 65 dollars was just an estimate.
“That 65 dollars was not the unit cost of a test. It was a congregated figure of different components that come along to test. So this was an estimate. The tests do not cost 65 dollars,” she said.
She noted that tests are different and include antibody which costs 5 dollars, the PCR which is used for diagnosis not survey and ranges better 19 to 25 dollars depending on the manufacturer where it is procured, ABI among others and all go for different costs.
“So for us we are talking about the entire cost. If I am coming to your house, I will come with a swab. The swab only, I use costs, the transport costs different money,” Atwine explained.
When the sample is taken to the laboratory for testing, Atwine said the process it undergoes costs differently.
“So we are not talking about 1 test costing 65 dollars,” she added.