The minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Amelia Kyambadde, who is also MP Mawokota North, looked thoroughly disappointed with the status of Muduuma health centre III.
The health centre located at the Muduuma sub-county headquarters has five blocks including a maternity ward. Interestingly, these are not old structures; the Kabaka of Buganda laid one of the blocks’ foundation stone on October 7, 2010 on the initiative of Twezimbe development association.
But that is all the good news about this health centre that reportedly caters for 25 villages with between 30 and 50 mothers giving birth monthly. There is poor hygiene, no electricity, the centre is overgrown with bushes and staff work under appalling conditions that left Kyambadde’s hair standing on end.
As she recently toured the facility during the handover ceremony of a water project at the sub-county headquarters with officials from the ministry of water and environment, Kyambadde was shocked by the bushy compound, rubbish in the wards, water taps covered by tall grass and nursing officers cooking under a mango tree.
“Muduuma health centre was the most affected centre with no clean water. I used to hire tanks to supply water for about Shs 300,000 per month; now we have water, but again the hygiene is very poor. I do not know what can be done,” the minister said.
To compound Kyambadde’s anger, the health centre in-charge, Joseph Kaggwa, whom many accuse of mismanaging the facility, was away. The minister pulled out her cell phone and called Kaggwa.
“Why do you leave this place like this? Where are you now? You leave your place when it is so bushy like this...even just cutting grass you wait for the ministry? If the issue is money, why are you in Masaka? How did you get that money to transport yourself? That money could have saved like ten lives!”Kyambadde was heard speaking on phone.
Kaggwa had gone to Masaka for a seminar. Kyambadde said Kaggwa had failed to execute his duty and messed the centre up.
“These people are just punishing innocent mothers who come here to give birth. Mosquitos are in every corner because of the bushes,” a police officer on duty was overheard saying.
One nurse said Kaggwa is the person who handles administrative issues at the centre. He signs for public health care funds (PHCF) for the health centre’s activities estimated at Shs 2m per month.
“Here we are just like this; we are always busy with patients from morning to evening without meals, because you cannot leave a sick person and sit down to eat,”she said.“Mothers come to deliver but you find us working in total darkness; he does not pay the electricity bills and at night mosquitoes are like a swarm of bees due to the overgrown grass.”
She blamed the centre’s despicable state on the “irresponsible person who is in his youthful age”.
“That post needs someone who is mature enough. This is the second time he has been warned, but he does not care,”the nurse said.
Speaking at the ceremony, Eng Joseph Oriono Eyatu, the commissioner for rural water supply and sanitation in the ministry of water and environment, said access to clean water at the centre had been poor for a very long time.
Kyambadde said her constituency had no clean water and electricity and she took advantage of her position at State House then (she was President Museveni’s principal private secretary) to lobby successfully for clean water at the health centre. But with poor management, even such individual efforts go to waste.