Uganda Heart Institute Under Fire for Returning Funds While Patients Suffer

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The Uganda Heart Institute has come under fire from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) for returning Shs. 1.8 billion to the consolidated fund, despite previously expressing dissatisfaction with a Shs. 5 billion budget cut imposed on the institute. PAC raised concerns that this decision resulted in the deaths of some patients and forced others to seek treatment elsewhere due to insufficient funds.

During a recent meeting today May 15, 2024, with officials from the Ministry of Health, PAC Chairman Muwanga Kivumbi questioned the Heart Institute’s management on whether they had attempted to request the Ministry of Finance to reallocate the returned funds for emergency activities such as patient treatment.

“When you have an emergency, you can ask for a reallocation of funds. Did you attempt to ask for it and it was denied? It is a big concern that you allowed money to go back, and now you are here complaining about budget cuts. So, the budget cuts shocked you, and you weren’t even able to utilize the little that you had?” Kivumbi interrogated.

In response, Dr. John Omagino, the Executive Director of the Uganda Heart Institute, explained that the returned funds were initially allocated for the ground-breaking ceremony, public relations, and the installation of power, water supply, and sewerage lines at the Institute’s new premises in Naguru. However, due to delays in project approval, the funds were eventually returned to the government.

The PAC committee expressed its dissatisfaction with the Institute’s handling of the situation. They emphasized the importance of prioritizing patient care and using available resources effectively, especially during times of financial constraints. The committee pointed out that the failure to request reallocation raised questions about the Institute’s commitment to fulfilling its core mandate.

The Auditor General’s report from December 2023 highlighted several issues within the Ministry of Health, prompting PAC to convene this meeting. The report called for greater transparency and accountability in the management of public funds and expressed concerns over the impact of budget cuts on essential healthcare services.

The Uganda Heart Institute plays a vital role in providing specialized cardiac care to Ugandan citizens. However, the recent budget cuts have strained the Institute’s ability to function optimally, resulting in limited services and diminished patient outcomes.

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