Kamuli district leaders face arrest over misuse of Covid-19 funds

Kamuli Resident District Commissioner (RDC) Robert Mutemo has directed police to arrest District Health Officer Fred Duku and Chief Administrative Officer Anthony Mawejje, for failing to account for COVID-19 funds.

Mutemo told journalists on Friday that the district received over sh156 million to facilitate members of the Village Health Teams (VHTs) during the second wave of the pandemic. 

The teams comprise volunteer community health workers recruited to bridge the gap created by a severe shortage in professional health workers.

VHTs often comb villages to reach people who would otherwise lack access to healthcare and provide essential services including antenatal care, immunisation, testing, and treatment for non-communicable diseases such as malaria.

 However, during the recent lockdowns, they were co-opted into the National Community Engagement Strategy for Covid-19 Response and tasked with sharing information about COVID-19 prevention in the community, surveillance and case detection, among others.

Under the strategy, the government pledged to pay allowances to members of the Village Health Teams, and the money was subsequently released to the district authorities. 

But Mutemo says that the teams never received the payments, yet the two officials stopped attending task force meetings when the demand for accountability intensified.

Samuel Kibumba, the coordinator of VHTs in Kamuli district says that every village has a total of five registered VHTs but most of them were never paid.

“District authorities tasked us to verify the particulars gathered from each of the registered five VHTs per village, however, early this month, the list was scaled down to only two, most of whom were paid between 50,000-150,000 Shillings each,” he says.

Duku and Mawejje declined to comment about the matter citing a personal resolve. 

However, a police authority privy to the investigations says that both suspects have been privately contacted and tasked to voluntarily record statements about the complaints against them

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