Leaders in Luwero district have criticized Bombo Military Barracks for denying ambulances belonging to Members of Parliament access to its hospital.
Bombo Military Barracks hosts a Military hospital that offers treatment to both soldiers and civilians.
In a move to help communities access health services, some Members of Parliament from Luwero district bought ambulances which they branded with their posters and some with those of National Unity Party President Robert Kyagulanyi.
The patients are only required to buy fuel for ambulances and they are transported to the hospitals.
Moses Ssebalamu the LC 3 Chairperson of Wobulenzi town council says that due to the lack of enough government ambulances, several patients use MPs’ ambulances for evacuation to Bombo Military Hospital and other facilities in Kampala city.
Ssebalamu explains that however such ambulances are always stopped at the checkpoint of the barracks and patients are ordered to either walk or be carried on a stretcher to a hospital facility which is located a distance away.
Ssebalamu adds that he has personally helped to evacuate atleast four patients on different days using MPs’ ambulances but they were never allowed to go past the checkpoint before he was forced to carry them to the hospital using stretcher.
Hassan Kirumira Lukaalidde, the Katikamu South MP says that he bought the ambulance to address the challenges which were being faced by residents to transport patients to the hospital.
Kirumira says that branding it with his posters shouldn’t be a big issue for the Military to deny it access on political grounds. He says that it’s unfortunate for expectant mothers and ill patients to be forced to walk yet they look frail.
But Lt. Col Chris Magezi, the Spokesperson of Land Forces said that only ambulances that are clearly branded as recommended by the Ministry of Health and identified by soldiers are allowed to move up to the hospital.
Magezi noted Military installations are sensitive to political messages because it’s nonpartisan and soldiers may fail to clearly identify ambulances if they are branded with MPs posters. “But we can’t allow any politicking in military installation either overt or subtle. My advice to MPs is let the ambulances be like ambulances, not political vans or billboards,” he added.
Magezi said that over 70% of patients treated at Bombo General Military Hospital are civilians and they are appreciative of their services.
Alice Kaboyo, the State Minister for Luwero-Rwenzori Triangle condemned MPs who brand the ambulances with their posters saying it’s a lowly act and will ask the Ministry of Health to compel them to remove them.
In 2014, the Ministry of Health established the Uganda National Ambulance Service (UNAS) to address the need for emergency pre-hospital care in Uganda. The government promised to operationalize the service beginning in 2019/2020 and Luwero hospital was earmarked as a center to host the service. Todate the hospital is yet to receive the ambulances to operationalize the service.