By Mary Asujo
Members of Parliament on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) have faulted Mulago hospital for spending 474 million shillings on refurbishment of a non- functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine procured by government in 2018 and has since not been used.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a key piece of equipment that is used in carrying out complex medical tests such as coronary tests for patients from the Uganda Heart Institute (UHI).
According to Auditor General report, interviews with staff at the hospital revealed that the machine had low Helium levels, lacked UPS power supply, was missing work station computer for data processing and machine consumables such as contrast and films.
This being the only available government MRI machine in the country implies that patients are forced into attaining the services from expensive private health facilities and the intended beneficiaries have not received the services as planned by government.
In an interaction with MPs sitting on Public Accounts Committee of Parliament chaired by Bugiri Municipality MP, Asuman Basalirwa, the legislators querried why Mulago hospital administrators spent money on refurbishment of a non- functional MRI machine yet the monies could have been channeled to other public service facilities to serve Ugandans in dire need of other medical services.
Mulago Principal Administrator, David Nuwamanya affirmed that that to-date MRI is not yet functional despite payment of a sum of UGX.474, 479,100. The officials also stated that general renovation and hand over of the renovation works for the hospital have never been fully completed and therefore affecting a number of hospital services and operationalization of some medical equipment like the said MRI. In particular, the MRI requires operationalization of the Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system that encompasses Heating, ventilation, and Air Conditioning of the building without which some equipment cannot operate.
“The sum of UGX.474,479,100 was used to fill Helium Gas that had leaked out of the machine due to prolonged period of non use and power outages during that period. Non-Filling of the MRI machine at that particular time could have led to further collateral damage of machine,” Nuwamanya asserted.
Tororo District woman MP, Sarah Opendi wondered why the hospital could not shift the machine to another public facility to enable some Ugandans get those services instead of spending UGX 474m on filling Helium Gas.
She was supported by Tororo North MP, Fredrick Angura who also said that since 2018, many Ugandans have been deprived of these particular service yet he personally had several people coming to him in need of MRI service saying that it’s long overdue and should be decommissioned as some costs may arise.
Bugiri Municipality MP, Asuman Basalirwa guided the team to ensure that machine is functioning because of the cost implication and the inconvenience that comes with it.
“It’s sad to spend 474m on a machine that is not functioning yet most Ugandans are in need of these services” he remarked.