BY JOACKIM KULE
Police in Kasese district on Monday foiled a peaceful demonstration that had been organized by the community in Bulembia Division of Kasese Municipality and other surrounding sub-counties over a decision by the Ministry of Health to withdraw government’s support from Kilembe Mines Hospital.
On December 02, last year, the Ministry of Health wrote to the Executive Director Joint Medical Stores informing him of its decision to deactivate Kilembe Mines Hospital and transfer the EMHS credit line worth shillings 353,491,221 to other health facilities in Kasese Municipality and Kasese district.
On Sunday, the concerned residents gathered at Bulembia Division headquarters and resolved to make a peaceful demonstration from Kilembe Mines Hospital to the Kasese District Chief Administrative Officer’s Office, a resolution that they wanted to implement today morning but they were blocked by police led by the Regional Police Commander, SSP Geoffrey Achiria who had rushed to the scene.
SSP Achiria told the angry residents to stop their move and embark on productive activities saying that the leaders were handling the issue to its logical conclusion. According to him, a demonstration cannot be a solution to such an issue, arguing that it causes more harm than good.
However, his advice did not go well with the angry residents who told him that they must continue with the planned move and demanded security from him as they walk from Kilembe to the CAO’s office.
At that point, a scuffle started that led to the arrest of the Kasese Municipality Mayor, Chance Kahindo and the Bulembia Division Chairperson, Mr. Richard Bomera who were driven away to Kasese Central Police Station but were later released.
The police from Field Force Unit immediately swung into action and started using teargas to chase away the angry residents while arresting others.
Patrick Syamutsangira, the Municipal Councilor representing Kyanjuki Ward told the Regional Police Commander that they couldn’t go away with their demonstration because they wanted to fight for the facility that serves thousands of people.
Joy Kabau and other concerned residents said they were fighting for the health facility in order to save the lives of expectant mothers.
Mr. Gideon Makoma, 38 from Kibandama village in Kilembe sub-county said that when the facility was still in Kasese town, the community had started registering many deaths because some of the patients could not manage to come to Kasese for medication following the distance.
Aaron Kule, 45 and a resident of Mbunga sub-county is now worried whether government still knows that people in the mountainous areas need health services to an extend of withdrawing from giving medical supplies to Kilembe Mines Hospital.