KAMPALA — The Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary, Dr. Diana Atwine has hit out at Ugandans, saying: “We are tired of being called thieves”.
Dr. Atwine’s comments illustrate her frustration in the middle of the pandemic as a section of Ugandans continue to claim that the PS and other officials at the Ministry used their positions to siphon funds intended to tackle the pandemic.
Dr. Atwine was on Saturday June 26 appearing on Nxt Radio during a talk show “NxtBigTalk” hosted by journalist Canary Mugume.
“We are tired of being called thieves. Let me tell you, we care about Ugandans. It’s not fair to call us insensitive,” she said, denying any wrongdoing in the alleged gross mishandling of the funds.
“Everyone is looking for faults. No one is looking at the thousands of people that have been treated. You are breaking us! Our doctors have been working for months with no money,” she added.
She says the negative propaganda against her and other officials at the frontline affects their zeal to deal with the issue.
Several Ugandans complain of a lack of transparency on the use of funds as well as, in some cases, seemingly inflated prices and Dr Atwine is among those accused and recommended for prosecution.
Recent findings by government’s own Uganda Bureau of Statistics (Ubos) revealed that 74% of Ugandans believe the Covid-19 funds and relief aid will not reach them because it will be stolen by ‘powerful people’ popularly christened as the ‘mafia’.
Also, 3/4 (three quarters) of the Ugandans do not trust government’s ability to effectively handle the Covid-19 funds while the overwhelming majority, 81 per cent actually believe the low quality of health care in the country is simply a result of corruption.
The Ubos survey supported by the World Bank also found that three-quarters of the Ugandans do not trust that government’s distribution channels for Covid-19 relief will to get to them.
The people surveyed expressed fear that money for Covid-19 response will be stolen anyway and would never get to the intended beneficiaries.