Ntungamo district is undergoing a payroll clean-up to clear their name of having ghost hospitals and health workers.
This was revealed by Ntungamo district council representative, Ms. Birungi Shallon, who was representing the District CAO during an engagement meeting between relevant stakeholders in Ntungamo and officials from Kick Corruption out of Uganda (KICK U).
The meeting was held on August 31, 2023, at Ntungamo Resort and was organized by Kick Corruption out of Uganda (KICK U) in partnership with the Alliance for Finance Monitoring (ACFIM). The purpose of the meeting was to share ideas on combating corruption to improve service delivery in Ntungamo district.
This follows recent scandals involving ghost health center IVs and ghost health staff that tarnished the district’s reputation with allegations of corruption.
Birungi Shallon informed participants that the district never had ghost hospitals or ghost health workers. She explained that the problem stemmed from public services where the upgraded health units were not properly recorded, and the number of health staff increased without accurate documentation.
She also stated that some health units were erroneously recorded as operating within the district when they were actually in neighboring districts. Some staff members highlighted as ghosts were, in fact, working in the upgraded health units.
Birungi Shallon added that some staff had passed away or absconded from their duties but were never removed from the payroll list. She blamed their immediate supervisors for failing to report these changes.
She assured this reporter that the district would take all necessary measures to recover the funds overpaid to staff, address the issue of staff who had passed away or absconded, and ensure accurate payroll records.
The Deputy Resident District Commissioner, Robert Niwamanya Kamuntu, emphasized the need for the district and the central government to collaborate in updating employee data. He highlighted cases where staff were incorrectly categorized as teachers when they were doctors, calling for a correction of job descriptions.
District councilor Hon Naboth Mpirirwe acknowledged that issues were not limited to the health department and were affecting the entire district. He pointed out discrepancies in staff records, not only at the district level but also at the national level, and assured the public of swift and proper resolution of these issues.
The officials from Kick Corruption out of Uganda (KICK U) were led by the Executive Director, Mr. Kakuru Robert Byamugisha.
During the investigation, it was discovered that 39 employees had been overpaid by the district, totaling UGX 74,857,421. This caused a significant financial burden on the government, including cases such as Edivina Kemirembe, a health information assistant overpaid by UGX 13.38 million, and Kellen Turyashemererwa, a nursing assistant overpaid by UGX 17.4 million.
Ten ghost health staff members were identified as neglecting their duties, including Eunice Kyobutungi, an enrolled midwife who had neglected duties since 2015, and Phionah Kanyesigye, an enrolled midwife who neglected duties starting from July 1, 2017, after never returning from leave, causing an estimated financial loss of UGX 48 million.
Others included Ronald Turyasiima, a porter who irregularly received lunch allowances, causing an estimated financial loss of UGX 1.7 million, and Comfort Arinda, an enrolled nurse at Itojo hospital who neglected duties for 7 months, causing an estimated financial loss of UGX 8.53 million.
Additionally, there were 24 staff members who had passed away but were never removed from the government payroll, including Caroline Orishaba, who was an Assistant Nursing Officer, and George Basiima, who was a porter, along with other retired staff still on the payroll.