YUMBE. The locals in Yumbe district have expressed concern to the government over non allocation of funds to operationalize Yumbe regional referral hospital.

The hospital that has been under rehabilitation and extension was recommended to be upgraded by the ministry of health to a regional referral hospital with its operationalization scheduled for 1st July, but no funds has been allocated for the hospital this coming financial year.

Dr Alfred Yayi, the district health officer admitted that they were told to plan based on the existing budget for a general hospital.

"No additional funding has been allocated by the time parliament approved the budget for 2021/2022 financial year but what remains to operationalize the regional hospital is the previous budget of the general hospital which is Shs 678 million but it's not enough for the needs of the regional referral hospital", he said.

"We have not concluded on what would happen but if the discussions which are ongoing can provide some additional money through supplementary budget, it will still help but if there is no allocation then definitely the operationalization of the hospital and provide services at a regional referral level will be affected", he added.

He said the construction works in the hospital is 100 per cent completed and what's ongoing is installation of equipment and training of the staff but there is still more equipment expected especially for the laboratory department.

Yayi said the ministry has not done any recruitments of the staff but were asked to second staff to start operations in the hospital.

"The general hospital had been having staff but due to the rehabilitation process of the hospital, they were deployed to the lower level facilities and they are the ones we are recalling back. We have about 115 members of the staff who are willing to come back but we shall still have a gap of about 400 staff as the required staff ceiling for a regional referral hospital is 534", Dr Yayi said.

It's estimated that the regional referral needs over Shs 6billion for its operations.

What the locals say

Mr Noah Achikule, an elder in the district said they convinced government to rehabilitate the hospital and applauded the government for listening to their cry.

He said they have given 98 percent to the government for moving the hospital to a regional referral level but that movement doesn't mean that people of Aringa should contribute and budget funds to manage the hospital.

"If the government thinks money is a problem, the donor community managing issues of the refugees should come to their aid if not stakeholders in West Nile and Yumbe in particular should be allowed to go and look for funds so that we are able to facilitate activities of the hospital to an international standard", he said.

"I know the government has been bottlenecking with very many activities but time is now, let the government give us the go ahead to go and look for money. The outside world should listen to the cry of the people of Yumbe and West Nile in general because health has a big problem and the big problem is about eating poor food, wrong food so the only alternative is to give people the best health services with enough funding", Achikule added.

Mr Twaib Achile, a resident of Yumbe district and also the vice chairperson for youth league in northern Uganda said denying budget for Yumbe referral hospital is very wrong but something needs to be done to ensure that the hospital is operationalized because death can't be postponed.

"Museveni's government is an inclusive government but we don't want the idea of some people denying opportunities for other people in allocation of resources. If Kayunga hospital that was rehabilitated together with Yumbe hospital can be allocated Shs 6billion, why not Yumbe? he asked.

He said when Museveni was winding up his campaigns, he successfully commissioned the referral hospital on Jan, 9 and directed that the operations of the hospital as a regional referral should take immediate effect.

Speaking to West Nile Web on phone on Friday, Mr Emmanuel Ainebyoona the senior communications officer at ministry of health confirmed that Yumbe regional referral hospital will start operations in the coming financial year.

"The hospital will begin operations in the new financial year. Operationalization of the regional referral hospital requires additional health workers, consultants and all these require funds which I think will be captured in the next financial year", he said.

He said the ministry will continue allocating funds for the hospital in the subsequent financial years and confirmed that some funds will be allocated in the 2021/2022 financial year.

Yumbe general hospital was established in 1960's with a bed capacity of 100 and if operationalized as a regional referral hospital, it will serve the West Nile districts of Koboko, Yumbe, Moyo, Obongi and Adjumani which will decongest Arua regional referral hospital. There is also a plan to upgrade Midigo health centre IV to a general hospital level which will decongest Yumbe regional referral hospital.

L R Mr Yassin TabanL-R, Mr Yassin Taban, the outgone Yumbe district chairperson, Dr Diana Atwine and other stakeholders posed for a group photo after touring the newly upgraded Yumbe regional referral hospital recently