LYANTONDE. The Ministry of Health has ordered Lyantonde District chief administrative officer, Mr Christopher Okumu, to block the approval of a contract to repair a ceiling in the maternity ward at Lyantonde Hospital.
Health minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng and the ministry Permanent secretary, Dr Diana Atwine, issued the directive last week after receiving a petition from Lyantonde Resident District Commissioner Sulaiman Matoojo indicating the project budget had been inflated.
Dr Aceng, who visited the hospital last week, observed that Shs500m should have been spent on different hospital needs rather than spending it on repairing a ceiling in the maternity ward .
Last year, government through the ministry of Finance released Shs500m to facilitate the repair of a ceiling of a maternity ward that was threatening to collapse on expectant mothers and building walkways connecting theatres to the wards.
A source that attended the meeting between Dr Aceng and Lyantonde District officials last week told Daily Monitor that the CAO and four other officials were questioned by the minister.
“The minister and her team were ready to arrest the CAO and his staff, but they were lucky that the contract had not yet been signed” said a source who preferred anonymity.
After the meeting, Dr Atwine, who spoke to journalists, said they were shocked to learn that Shs500 million was to be spent only on repairing the ceiling and walk ways, something she said was not convincing.
“We received complaints that the process in which the contract was awarded was not right, people wanted to share tax payers money as if they worked for it, how can a mere ceiling cost Shs500 million?” she asked .
Mr Matoojo said government should always follow-up funds sent to different districts to avoid losses.
Mr Okumu said they are going to respect the minister’s directive and will continue with the project after getting clearance from the ministry.
Recently, Lyantonde District Council passed a resolution asking government to enhance the hospital budget to enable administrators address water problems, the poor state of the mortuary and the maternity ward so that service delivery can improve at the facility.
Government responded by releasing Shs500m to reconstruct the collapsing ceiling of the maternity ward as well as build walkways connecting theatres to the wards.
Last December, MPs on the Health Committee of Parliament were shocked when they paid an abrupt visit to the facility and found the hospital walls full of cobwebs and a foul smell emanating from some of the wards and the hospital mortuary. The mortuary was built in 1955 and was planned to accommodate only three bodies at a time. However, administrators say the place currently accommodates more than 20 bodies.