Luweero Health Center IV is in a total blackout over accumulated bills. Power distributors, Umeme Limited disconnected supply to the health center on Wednesday over accumulated power bills to the tune of Shillings 36 million.
Umeme disconnected supply after several failed engagements with management to clear the bill, which has accumulated over the past seven years. Sam Mulwana, the Luweero Health Center IV Management Committee Chairperson, says the disconnection has already affected theatre operations, storage of vaccines and essential medicines as well as lighting among others.
According to Mulwana, they only have Shillings 2 million, which they intend to use to hire a technician to tap solar energy from eye clinic run by German partners.
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Our reporter saw health workers using charcoal stoves to sterilize equipment when he visited Luweero Health Center IV on Friday. There are fears that the facility might start registering maternal deaths due to failure to conduct timely C-sections because of the power crisis. Apparently, the theater is powered by the generator to allow medics attend to emergencies, but this may not be sustainable because of the costs involved.
The In charge of Luweero Health Center IV, Dr. Sarah Ogobi has asked the district to intervene and come to their rescue. Paul Mukungu, the Luweero Town Council LC 3 Chairperson, says they can only raise Shillings one million because of revenue shortfalls.
Mukungu asks the Health Ministry to intervene and allocate more funds to the facility to clear the power bills. He explains that the health center only receives Shillings 7.5 million for its operations, which he says is little compared to its demands.
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Ronald Ndawula, the Luweero District LC 5 Chairperson, says they have managed to allocate only Shillings two million towards clearing the power bill and asked the town council to provide some resources as well. Luweero Health Center IV attracts over 250 patients from Luweero, Nakaseke and Nakasongola districts each day.
National Water and Sewerage Corporation has also issued a demand note of Shillings 2 million to Luweero Health Center IV or else they disconnect supply, something that may cause a sanitation crisis. The facility is also stuck with the water bill.
On April 7, 2018, Dr. Henry Mwebesa, the Acting Director General of Health Services announced that the government had elevated Luweero Health Center IV to hospital status effective July 1 this year.
New of upgrading the Health Center to hospital status excited health workers, local leaders and residents in Luweero. Many were optimistic that it would attract bigger funding and improve service delivery.