Mary L Nannono, permanent secretary at Uganda's ministry of health, sent the following statement in response to claims made in Panorama: Addicted to Aid:
1. I have not been able to establish how much money has come to the Health Sector since the 1960s. I do know however that Uganda has gone through a very difficult patch since that time which has severely affected its social, economic as well as political fibre. Where we are now in terms of health service delivery should be measured against where we have come from and not where we should ideally be. A lot of progress has been made.
2. There is no shortage of gloves but there are problems with users accurately predicting their needs to allow timely procurement. The procurement and supply management process is being addressed. As for paracetamol, Mulago is a referral hospital and the drug is not among the indicator tracer drugs for that level and may be out of stock sometimes.
3. Staffing levels at the referral hospitals and indeed at all the health units are not optimal but the staff are dedicated and do a good job in spite of the constraints they face.
4. It is not true that critically injured patients are left to bleed to death. No health unit would do something like that. Owing to staffing gaps however, there may be delays in attending to some patients. Uganda continues to have a high number of road traffic accidents. We have developed client/patient charters to sensitize the patients on their rights. We have strong partnerships with private-not-for-profit health units as well as representatives of civil society organisations in our governance structures.
5. Mulago hospital receives a lot more patients than it should get because patients do not go to lower health units. The matter is being addressed through rehabilitation of peripheral health units and the planned construction of four divisional hospitals in Greater Kampala.
6. Levels of sanitation are generally poor, even outside the hospitals. The hospital clients belong to the same population. There is no evidence to prove that hospital clients and staff are being infected through poor hospital procedures.
7. It is true that there is a space problem in the labour suite. It was constructed to accommodate 18 mothers but receives up to 80 per day. A new labour suite is being constructed to address this problem.
8. For the reason mentioned in 7 above, mothers who deliver normally are observed for 24 hours and discharged with instructions to return in case anything unusual develops.
9. Mulago hospital has four operating ambulances, will procure one more this financial year and two next financial year.
10. The Ministry of Health has 217 vehicles of different sizes and capacities and not all of them are 4x4. Only 10 of these were purchased using the Ministry budget. The rest came in through project support.