KAMPALA – The people of Kawempe North constituency in Kampala district are saddened following the complete folding of a health facility, which their jailed legislator – Muhamad Ssegirinya had established.
The health centre had been dysfunctional since December 23, 2022, due to the lack of funding – and on January 26, management decided to close – donating the equipment and available medicines at the facility to other health units within the constituency.
Established in July 2021, the health centre started experiencing challenges after the arrest and subsequent jailing of the legislator on a string of accusations – including terrorism, attempted murder, and murder. The legislator has spent more than two years on remand.
Alex Luwemba, an administrator at the now defunct Kawempe North Health Centre and Ssegirinya’s personal assistant said that the facility had been going through severe financial hardships.
“The centre required a monthly budget of more than Ugx5m, which we could not raise. Though predominantly the health centre has been providing free services, we had introduced payment of a nominal fee, reduced staff to 10 from 30 – but still failed to raise the money,” he said.
According to Luwemba, the facility also suffered political interference as area politicians and government agencies sabotaged their efforts to find money to run it.
“The facility had accumulated up to Ugx10m in rent arrears. Although we had agreed with our landlord on the payment plan, area politicians who are against the project bad-mouthed the project and the landlord changed his mind.
“Remember police had since barred us from rising money from the channels we thought could help,” explained Luwemba.
Locals were dismayed as news of the complete closure of the health centre circulated – as many saw a disadvantage ahead in their community.
Sarah Namuddu, who claimed to have been using the facility for her routine hypertension checks, said that since it was established near her home, it had saved her the trouble of moving a long distance to the other health centres.
For other locals, Kawempe North Health Centre has been a source of customers for their businesses. Justine Namtovu – a food vendor, noted that her biggest clientele was the patients at the health centre, adding that she started her business as a result of seeing patients struggling to find food.
A boda boda rider, who preferred anonymity, said they had established a stage next to the health centre when it opened such that they could tap into its patients and staff who needed transport.
The ten-bed health centre would receive an average of up to 175 outpatients every month. A former administrator also revealed that they could deliver at least five mothers every month.
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