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Fresh controversy is steaming from Mulago Hospital, over the suspicious recent procurement of an ultra modern CT Scan valued at about two billion shillings.
There are doubts as to whether the machine, bought at 800 thousand Euros from Philips, a Dutch manufacturer, was the genuine.
An initial order for a 6-slice SC Scan at 800,000 dollars was later altered to a bigger and better capacity version of 16-slice, but without any added cost to the hospital. This procurement alteration, without any added cost in money and change of documents, has generated suspicion amongst some of the users at the hospital. Some users allege that they were supplied a fake model of a 16-slice machine.
According to information available at the hospital, the alteration was done after Mulago administration realized that their sister hospital, Mbarara University Hospital, had ordered for a bigger version of the 16-slice CT Scan. Mulago felt being a bigger hospital they would look embarrassed to have a smaller CT Scan version than Mbarara.
But there was ample time between May last year when the initial purchase order was done and December when the delivery and installation took place.
The machine was installed in December last year to start operation but a few weeks later, its battery system failed to work well leading to it being grounded.
Following the installation on December 23rd and its failure to work, many patients who had paid for the service had their money returned without being told what had gone wrong. But a senior management source at the national referral hospital who asked not to be named said the machine failed because it was a second hand, bought at the same amount as a new one, but of a lower version.
The source also said the machine usage had to be stopped after it was feared that it was producing more radiation than is normal.
The source told Uganda Radio Network that the boxes in which the machine was delivered were labeled as Chinese and not Dutch as had been ordered for originally.
The Head of Radiology department, Dr. Rosemary Byanyima rubbished the allegations that the CT Scan is fake. Byanyima admitted that after its installation the machine failed to work for sometime but that this was due to its battery system failing due to power outages at the hospital.
Byanyima said the supplier, Medical Equipment Consultants Ltd, based at Lugogo showground, were promptly informed and had by this week delivered a new power back up system from the manufacturers in Holland. She said that the machine had already resumed normal operation but could not reveal details of its strength.
Outgoing Executive Director, Dr. Edward Ddumba said he suspects the controversy over the machine procurement to be coming from suppliers who competed for the tender. In his comments two weeks ago, Ddumba admitted that instead of serving 70 patients a day, the machine was operating below target at 40 people per day.
He blamed reports of high radiation being emitted by the machine on internal politics of Mulago Hospital.
The local suppliers of the CT Scan, Medical Equipment Consultants Ltd, on their part said the power failure at Mulago Hospital caused the software to crush following its installation but that this problem was rectified within a day.
Lydia Wereka, a customer support engineer who did the installation and training of the Mulago staff operating the machine, said that they were not responsible for the power failures at the hospital but would make sure that it operates efficiently before it is commissioned.
She said that once the new power back up is installed, there would be no problem with it at all. She said that their manufacturer in Holland, Philips, offered the higher version at the same amount in order to attract more customers from Uganda and not because it is fake or of Chinese make as has been alleged.
Mulago hospital has for the last two years been embroiled is huge financial and management scandals forcing a number of investigations to be launched against the management.
The Executive Director, Dr. Ddumba was last week relieved of his duties at the hospital.