Covid-19 fund’s saga: For our sake, Diana should resign

Health PS - Dr Diana Atwine

By James William Mugeni

“The Global Fund’s support for the national response to Covid-19 epidemic in Uganda was swift and significant, disbursing US$51,935,105 of additional funding for their Covid-19 response….”

USA – 2, July 2021: Doctors! I look back and regret the years of my prime time; the time I wasted studying medicine! This is now making people hate things they cherished.

Medicine is pure and the ethics medics hold are above all other ethics in the public sector.

Today, some media outlets and social media in Uganda are reporting that Dr Diana Atwine, the Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Health is a thief. She’s not alone!

How can anyone convince the world that we are fighting the Covid-19 pandemic with this leadership?

Museveni himself has castigated her and others before public. Are these Doctors saying time will exonerate them? The best they can do is to resign and perhaps request for a public clearance of their names.

The last you can tarnish is the image of your health professionals. Are we this bad? Yes we are.

There is public knowledge that 107 healthcare professionals are involved in killing people for body organs trade.

Tamale Mirundi, a media consultant and analyst talks about this every day. No credible person from the medical profession has come up to defend us about this.

Right now there are calls telling people do not go to hospitals you will be killed, when did hospitals become killing places if not for appointments of people to the profession without ethics in the public sector?

The army is killing people, the police is killing people, the militias are killing Ugandans and the medics are also killing Ugandans? How can we go so low?

One of the reasons Covid-19 spiked in Uganda is here. People having no faith in leadership. And our leaders do not care.

It started off with stealing vaccines for immunization of children against the known child hood killer diseases and it went to stealing money for TB, HIV/AIDS; it went to money for mosquito nets.

A medical officer on duty. A Global Fund photo.
Uganda’s remarkable Response to Covid-19, according to The Global Fund
The Global Fund says it has been investing in strengthening systems for health over the last two decades, “because without a good foundation, we cannot end diseases,” it adds.
But the health infrastructure invested in over the years in Uganda is now shocking the population; making the sick more sicker during this Covid-19 pandemic moment.
Considering the dire situation in many countries and the fact that the virus has killed over 2.6 million people worldwide (by March 2021), Uganda has been very successful at fighting Covid-19, according to The Fund.
It adds that Uganda achieved that feat by swiftly deploying health systems and community responses created to fight other infectious diseases, including HIV, TB and malaria.
“A robust network of laboratories and surveillance systems combined with well-trained human resources, including over 150 trained field epidemiologists spread all over the country, enabled the successful rollout of testing, which is the first line of defense against Covid-19.”
Covid-19 testing is done through antigen rapid diagnostic tests (Ag RDTs) and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, which require laboratory facilities to be carried out.“We have strong laboratories built over the years with support from partners,” explains Uganda’s Minister of Health, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, as quoted by The Global Fund.

The Global Fund’s support for the national response to Covid-19 epidemic in Uganda was swift and significant, disbursing US$51,935,105 of additional funding for their Covid-19 response and supporting Uganda to use US$10,510,356 in existing grant savings.

The Global Fund enabled countries like Uganda to use grant savings and reprogramming to rapidly adapt existing HIV, TB and malaria programs, purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) for front-line health workers, diagnostics and medical supplies, and to deploy prevention campaigns.

“Uganda has built very strong partnerships over the years, including partnerships with the Global Fund, and you came in well on time to support the response in Uganda,” says Dr. Aceng.

Fellow Ugandans, its very sad that with all the above support to Uganda, leaders, however, have become so immune that they do not care what the public makes out of them, especially on issues of accountability and transparency as long as global bodies are still funding them.

There is lack of ethics in the public sector. I found this very telling. The best one would do is to resign.

From March 2020 to date, majority of Ugandans are yet to be convinced with monies and funds given to Uganda, and local donations made to handle Covid-19 situation.

And people behind this, some of them are ‘medical team’ holding powerful offices in government.

The medical fraternity should not sit down and watch the profession go to the drain. How can we settle down to be led by people whose images are captioned as thieves? Do they represent thieves?

For the sake of sanity, the only noble thing remaining for Dr Diana Atwine is to resign. The title “Dr” should be stripped from her if we have a serious medical council and only restored to her after conclusive investigation.

The Ministry has come out to deny claims that her officials, including Dr Atwine are not thieves. This is good, but make the accountability on funds, local donations and document it, and issue to the public.

The Book of Titus 1:7-8 says: “He must live a blameless life. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered; he must not be a heavy drinker, violent, or dishonest with money…he must love what is good. He must live wisely and be just. He must live a devout and disciplined life.

The author is a medical clinical officer/certified public manager.


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