Parliament is investigating the Dismantling of Gulu Hospital’s ICU and Missing Equipment

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The Parliament Committee on Government Assurances and Implementation is investigating the circumstances surrounding the dismantling of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Gulu Regional Referral Hospital.

Chaired by Hon. Abed Bwanika, the committee is examining government commitments in the health sector and developments in new cities and districts.

In 2019, Parliament approved a loan request, permitting the Government to borrow approximately Shs200 billion from the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank Group under the Intergovernmental Fiscal Transfers (UgIFT) Programme.

The funding was intended for upgrading health centre II’s to health centre III’s in sub-counties lacking government-owned health centre III facilities.

In 2021, a further loan request of Shs352.2 billion from the IDA was approved by Parliament to complete the upgrades, construct and equip new health centre III’s, and recruit staff for all upgraded health centre II’s, among other objectives. The government also procured ICU equipment for all regional referral hospitals.

During the committee’s visit to Gulu Regional Referral Hospital on Friday, 29 June 2024, it was discovered that despite receiving 10 ICU beds, only four were operational as an ICU.

Components such as monitors, ventilators, and ICU beds had been relocated to other hospital areas, severely compromising the ICU’s functionality. Additionally, two ICU beds were out of service.

The committee’s deputy chairperson, Hon. Joyce Bagala, expressed concern over the incomplete ICU units presented to the committee, noting discrepancies in the equipment supplied by the Japan International Cooperation Agency and the Government.

Hon. Bwanika demanded explanations from the hospital administration regarding the whereabouts of the ICU components and the reasons behind their dismantling.

“It is regrettable that expensive ICU equipment has been dispersed within the hospital, rendering the ICU ineffective, the individuals responsible appear unable to account for these items, some of which were repurposed as standard hospital beds,” Bwanika said.

Reports indicated that senior hospital management had decided to redistribute some ICU components to various wards, including maternity, surgical, and emergency units after the end of COVID-19.

An ICU unit typically comprises an ICU bed, ventilators, drug pumps, oxygen supply, and suctioning machines. However, several ICUs at the hospital were found lacking these essential components.

In response to the situation, the hospital’s storekeeper, Robert Vupale, was escorted to the police station to record a statement on the dismantling of the ICU and the missing equipment.

Hon. Robert Ssekitoleeko (NUP, Bamunanika County, Luweero) proposed holding the entire hospital administration accountable for the ICU’s degradation.

“The responsibility for this issue lies with all involved parties, including the director and technical staff managing the ICU. A comprehensive investigation should be conducted to address the breakdown in institutional management,” proposed Ssekitoleeko

Following discussions, the committee decided that the hospital’s Director, Dr Peter Mukobi, currently away on official duties in Kampala, should report to the Gulu Central Police Station and record a statement regarding the situation before the Police can determine how to proceed with investigations into the matter.

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