UGANDA—Residents of Kasese District continue to face hardships as the reopening of Kilembe Mines Hospital remains delayed after being washed away by floods, drawing the attention of Parliament.

The hospital has remained closed since February 2023, when the government discontinued all financial aid to the hospital, as directed by Health Minister Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng in a letter to the Chairperson of the Committee of Health.

This decision stemmed from the hospital’s vulnerability to flooding in the River Nyamwamba catchment area, resulting in recurrent damages, notably on May 1, 2013, May 5, 2014, and most recently on May 7 and 10, 2020.

During a meeting of the Committee on Government Assurance and Implementation at Kilembe Hospital on Friday, April 6, 2024, stakeholders expressed frustration over the delayed operationalization of the hospital.

Speaking during the meeting, Edson Kambere, an engineer from Kilembe Mines, stressed the availability of land for the hospital’s reconstruction, noting that necessary arrangements were made but communication from the Ministry of Health has been lacking.

On his part, Richard Bomera, the LC3 Chairperson of Bulembia Division, provided detailed accounts of efforts made to secure government support for the hospital.

He highlighted challenges due to disruptions in medicine supply and the transfer of funds meant for Kilembe Mines Hospital to other facilities, noting that a Parliament resolution calling for operationalization of the facility over two years ago has not been respected.

“The people continued struggling; none of the health facilities in the catchment of the six sub-counties was given even a single tablet,” he lamented.

Commenting on this, Deputy Town Clerk Zedekiah Kayiiri reiterated administrative challenges regarding staffing and funding allocation, emphasizing the need for clarity and adherence to policies.

Members of Parliament, including Hon. Ferigo Kambale (NRM, Kasese Municipality), expressed dismay over the Ministry of Health’s actions, labeling them as contemptuous of parliamentary decisions and detrimental to the healthcare needs of the community.

Political tensions were also raised, with accusations against the top leadership of the district for allegedly undermining efforts to reinstate the hospital, potentially due to political rivalries.

An emotional Hon. Florence Kabugho, the Kasese District Woman MP, highlighted the difficulty of accessing services in the challenging terrains of Kasese, expressing frustration over the closure of the hospital.

For her part, Hon. Sylvia Tumwekwase, the District Woman MP for Kamwenge, emphasized the critical role Kilembe Hospital played in providing healthcare to a substantial volume of patients within the region.

 Hon. Stephen Sserubula, the Lugazi Municipality MP, pledged Parliament’s commitment to ensure the reinstatement of the hospital.

The committee’s deputy chairperson, Hon. Joyce Bagala, assured stakeholders of Parliament’s dedication to follow up on the government’s promise to construct Kilembe Mines Hospital, promising to engage with the Ministry of Health to address the failure to open the hospital.

“The matters of health are of concern to all of us, and working with all your Members of Parliament and others, we are going to ensure that you get these services,” Bagala, also the Mityana District Woman MP, affirmed.

Currently, the hospital, which once employed 82 staff, now operates with only 14 due to funding gaps.

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