PS Atwine shocked as she realises money sent for health workers in Mayuge last financial year has never reached

The Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health Dr Diana Atwine is bitter with Mayuge district authorities for the misappropriation of funds meant for payment of Community Health Extension Workers (CHEWs)

The CHEWS are a new component in the health sector who were recruited and trained by the government last year to help in promoting public health among households.

The pioneer project is running in only two districts Mayuge and Lira.

However, Dr Diana Atwine says she has received several reports from the CHEWs accusing Mayuge District officials of failure to pay their monthly emoluments of 150,000 per month.

"I was prompted to come to Mayuge to ascertain the progress of this project but I am disappointed that district officials are not paying the CHEWs yet I use the same mode of payment to Lira District" Dr Atwine revealed

The CHEWs were recruited in November last year and they were supposed to receive their payment starting January 2023 however, some people have gone 8 months without pay.

Dr Diana Atwine reveals that on 19th Jan 2023, she released  Shs 124.6m for emoluments of CHEWs then on 9th of March 2023 another batch of Shs62.3m was released, in June she sent Shs19.9m and on 28th August she released Shs62.3m all the money was put on the account of Mayuge District but unfortunately some Community Health Extension workers have never received a single coin whereas others who received some months are also not up to date.

She is demanding accountability of Shs260m meant for monthly emoluments of Community Health Extension workers.

"When they heard that I was coming they started paying some people, wherever they got the money I don't know since the law says that the unspent money is supposed to be sent back to the treasury but these people have started spending money I sent in the previous financial year, Dr Atwine observed.

She claims that the district has also failed to account for Shs120m for Primary Health Care since the 2021/22 financial year.

"I have been left one option but to write to the Inspector General of Government to investigate the civil servants in Mayuge, since I will not allow money meant for the Health Sector to be mismanaged," the tough-talking Atwine said.

If the problem is the District Chief Finance officer you sack him, if it is the Chief Accounting Officer who is failing to do the job the Ministry of Local Government reign on him, but the District should advertise and get a substantive District Health officer since the Acting DHO is not up to the standard of the job" Atwine told the gathering at the District headquarters.

Relatedly as part of efforts to improve on their working conditions and champion the promotion of public health, the Ministry of Health has distributed bicycles, smartphones and kits to Community Health Extension Workers.

Speaking at a ceremony at Mayuge District headquarters Dr Atwine challenged the CHEWs to refrain from mismanaging the items given to them but rather make use of them to serve the intended purpose.

"Bicycles should help you in mobility to mobilise community members to embrace matters of public health like keeping good hygiene in homes, smartphones should help you sending data to health Assistant about your community, don't give smartphones to your spouses, those are properties of government." Dr Atwine warned.

In an interview, the District Health Officer Dr Asuman Basembeza attributed the delay in paying the Community Health Extension workers to failure to provide relevant documents.

Some CHEWs didn't have bank accounts, others didn't have National IDs so they delayed processing their bank accounts and the supply number as a requirement bylaw.

He promised that all the CHEWs shall get their payments for all their arrears before the end of this week

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