As usual, Dr. Kizza Besigye is either not honest or not serious in the manner he visited and propagandised about the unrehabilitated state of Abim Hospital.
We all know that a number of the old hospitals are not yet rehabilitated, including Abim. I have visited Abim Hospital myself several times, the last time being on August 24, 2015.
Following the collapse of the economy and the social services of Uganda of 1971-1986, the NRM decided to start with the prevention of diseases rather than waiting to cure them.
Hence, a totally new structure of health care was initiated in the country. This was centered on the brand new Health Centre IVs at the county and Health Centre IIIs at the sub-county. These are 193 Health Centre IVs and 930 Health Centre IIIs (mostly new) in the whole country.
Dr. Besigye, if he was honest or serious, should have visited the three Health Centre IIIs in Abim. These are Rwogom in Nyakwai sub-county, Alerek in Alerek sub-county and Orwamuge in Notuke sub-county.
It is these that have carried out the successful immunisation programmes for the majority of the 13 diseases. These are: polio, whooping cough, tetanus, measles, tuberculosis, diphtheria, influenza, Pneumonia/Meningitis, Hepatitis B, diarrhea, cervical cancer, mumps and German measles.
They also carry out curative work for many sicknesses. Some of the staff have problems of absenteeism and theft of drugs. That is why I set up a Health Monitoring Unit, headed by Dr. Diana Atwiine, in my office.
This unit has made 227 arrests of health staff engaged in malpractices that include criminal negligence, including death of patients, stealing of drugs, etc.
The unit, however, is being frustrated by the Judiciary that continues to release the culprits. I have complained to the Principal Judge and the Chief Justice about this.
Given the chaos in the region, drugs are smuggled to DR Congo, South Sudan, etc. Fortunately, earlier on, I had already ordered the embossing of all government drugs (tablets, capsules, bottles etc.). They are, therefore, easy to track. That is why I fell out with the former Permanent Secretary, Mary Nannono.
Basing the Health care at the sub-county and the county (HC IIIs and HC IVs) has caused a revolution in Uganda. Infant mortality has declined from 122 to 44 per 1000 live births, life expectancy has risen from 43 years to 58.7 years in spite of the AIDs epidemic.
The immunization takes place, mainly in these Health Centre IVs and Health Centre IIIs not in Abim Hospital. We spent huge amounts of money in building these Health Centre IVs and Health Centre IIIs.
A Health Centre IV, on the average, costs sh2.5b, including accommodation for 10 critical medical workers. A Health Centre III, on the average, costs sh1.5b, including accommodation for six critical medical workers.
I rejected the plans to extend Health Care to HC IIs at the parish. Indeed, 2,729 of them had been built in the whole country. However, that entailed recruiting another 45,000 health workers, which would take too much money.
Instead, we agreed that the Health Centre IIIs should be fully manned with 19 workers and Health Centre IVs with 49 workers each.
It is this new health structure that has seen the Population of Uganda grow from 14 million in 1986 to about 38 million today.
I am always quarrelling with the Ministry of Health about their failure to add a sustained campaign for good nutrition and hygiene, working with the Ministries of Local Government and the Ministry of Information, to this very successful programme of immunisation mentioned above.
That would eliminate over 70% of the sicknesses. They should also consolidate the anti-malaria campaign of distributing treated bed-nets and residual indoor spraying.
As for the district hospitals, we know which ones have been rehabilitated and those that have not been renovated.
The ones that have been renovated include Kabale, Mbarara, Fort Portal, Masaka, Hoima, Mubende, Arua, Gulu, Lira, Moroto, Soroti, Jinja, Mbale and Naguru. These ones have already been completed.
The ones under renovation are Entebbe, Mityana, Nakaseke, Kiryandongo, Anaka, Nebbi, Moyo, Iganga, Kawolo, Kayunga, Yumbe and Busolwe.
We also have those ones that have not been rehabilitated, but whose rehabilitation process has just begun. The Ministry of Health is providing a budget of sh700m to each of these hospitals every financial year for rehabilitation work in a phased manner.
These include Abim, Kiboga, Bundibugyo, Kitagata, Aturtur, Bugiri, Kapchorwa, Kitgum, Itojo. The unrehabilitted Hospitals, however, have not stopped the improved health status of Ugandans because the majority of the answers were in prevention (immunization, hygiene, nutrition, behavior change, malaria control, vector control – tse tse flies, river blindness fly, etc).
That is where the NRM started from. If Dr. Besigye does not know that, I am informing him. It is also not serious for Dr. Besigye to go to Karamoja and not talk about the peace. When Dr. Besigye left us in 2000 or thereabout, there were 40,000 illegal guns in the hands of the cattle-rustlers.
Kony was still killing people in northern Uganda. ADF was killing people in the Rwenzori region. The NRM and the UPDF have totally pacified the country by defeating the terrorists and disarming the cattle-rustlers.
Is it not dishonest for Dr. Besigye, to zoom around the country, by night and by day, in total peace, yet fail to even mention that? Did Dr. Besigye see the electricity in Abim? What did it cost the state to take power there, all the way from Lira? As he noticed the unrehabilitated state of Abim Hospital, surely, as an honest person, he could have also noticed the great improvements.
I thank you.
Yoweri K. Museveni, Gen. (rtd)
Chairman NRM, President of Uganda and presidential flag-bearer NRM party