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> Uganda’s Health Ministry’s Woes

  • Embezzlement of GAVI (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization) Funds by Health Minister Mike Mukula

Mukula grilled in new probe

Publication date: Thursday, 22nd June, 2006

QUESTIONED: Mukula

By Alfred Wasike & Jude Etyang

FORMER health state minister Mike Mukula has appeared before the IGG in a fresh probe into another health ministry project in which sh300m was reportedly misappropriated.

Other health ministry officials are also being investigated in conection to the multi-million dollar GAVI fund for immunisation and equipping of health centres.

GAVI, or the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, targets the revitalisation of the national immunisation programme.

Sources said the IGG summoned former health ministers Maj. Gen. Jim Muhwezi, Dr. Alex Kamugisha and Mukula but only the latter showed up on Wednesday and was questioned from 9:00am to 2:00pm.

Deputy IGG Raphael Baku said, “We are carrying out an investigation. But I am not in charge of it so I can’t give you details. I know that those former ministers were supposed to appear and be asked a few questions.”

“There is an ongoing investigation in the Ministry of Health. It’s not a good practice to make comments while an investigation is going on. We prefer to a make a statement after the investigation is concluded because it could have a negative impact on the investigation,” Baku said.

Asked how long the investigation would take, Baku said his boss, Faith Mwondha who is directly supervising the investigation, was better placed to answer.

Sources said Mukula was quizzed on the GAVI fund and immunisation of children headed by Dr. Issa Makumbi in Uganda.
The GAVI is a public-private partnership focused on increasing children’s access to vaccines in poor countries. Partners include governments, UNICEF, WHO, the World Bank, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and NGOs.

Mukula was reportedly also quizzed about the sh263,855,000 over advocacy programmes in 2003. The sources said Mukula reportedly said sh73,140,000 was released and that Madam Lalam wrote the requisition letter and gave him a copy.

Mukula reportedly said sh53,819,000 was spent on an event in Kabale and 210,061,000 was refunded.

Mukula reportedly said there was extensive mobilisation especially in western Uganda where Radio West was decampaigning the immunisation process in Central Uganda where CBS was also decampaigning immunisation. He said the Nabagereka and the Kyabazinga were actively involved and funded.

He was asked whether the politicians exerted any influence on the civil servants and whether most of the funds were spent on social mobilisation.

He reportedly denied influence-peddling. He said since he was not involved in the day-to-day management, the permanent secretary was best placed to answer.

The sources said, “The investigation has revealed certain officials in the Ministry of Health requisitioned for money but did not undertake the activities such as buying the vaccines. They collected money to prepare for project launches upcountry by the President but did not go.”

The probe follows another into the mismanagement of the Global Fund for Aids in which Mukula, Muhwezi and Kamugisha were cited in irregular transactions.

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