MP Ssemujju questions State House medical staffing and costs

MP Ssemujju questions State House medical staffing and costs
Kira Municipality Member of Parliament, Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda.

Kampala, Uganda | By Michael Wandati | Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, a Member of Parliament representing Kira Municipality, has expressed concerns about the staffing levels of healthcare workers at the State House.

In a plenary session held on Friday 17, May 2024, Ssemujju raised questions about the government’s employment of 17 nurses to care for the President and his spouse.

He highlighted that the number of nurses at the State House exceeds the staffing levels of some public health centers in rural areas of Uganda.

“Parliament must interest itself in the growing number of medical personnel at the State House. Article 107 of the Constitution doesn’t allow a person with physical incapacity to hold the office of the President,” he said, adding that the State House should share a medical report detailing the health condition of President Museveni.

“Seventeen nurses at The State House are too many unless they are dealing with a very big problem. We have a duty not to allow the President to establish his own medical facility at the State House,” Ssemujju said.

President Museveni, First Lady vaccinated against COVID-19
President Yoweri Museveni gets vaccinated as wife Janet Museveni looks on.

He further noted that past presidents, including the late Dr. Apollo Milton Obote and General Idi Amin Dada, received medical treatment at Mulago, a public healthcare facility.

Citing the law, Ssemujju mentioned that Article 107 of the Constitution prohibits an individual with physical incapacity from holding the office of the President.

“State House should share a medical report with Parliament on the health of our President,” he added.

During the Budget Framework discussion in January, legislators were informed that the Intensive Care Unit at Mulago National Referral Hospital needs 28 nursing officers but currently has only 14.

Ssemujju remarked that it seemed as though the President was “establishing his own medical facility at the State House,” a situation Parliament should address.

This issue arises just months after MPs, led by Kalungu West MP Joseph Ssewungu, threatened to boycott the budget speech or State of the Nation Address, citing excessive COVID-19 testing. Some MPs also demanded President Museveni’s medical report be presented to them.

President Museveni, First Lady receives second COVID-19 vaccine jab
Ugandan First Lady, Janet Museveni receives the second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca at State Lodge Nakasero in Kampala, Uganda, on June 3, 2021.

However, Speaker of Parliament Anita Among dismissed the demand as unnecessary and unlawful, emphasizing that medical reports are private.

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Ssemujju’s remarks were part of a minority report on the Budget Appropriation he presented on Thursday, where he criticized several expenditures deemed unnecessary by his Shadow finance ministry, including the extensive medical team assigned to the Presidency.

The State House allocates a total of Shs 58 million monthly to pay 16 nurses attending to the President. According to Ssemujju’s minority report, John Baptists Mpagi, the highest-paid nurse, receives Shs 6 million per month, while Annet Mutenga, the lowest-paid nurse, earns Shs 1.2 million monthly.

However, the report only lists 16 nurses, and it is unclear whether these salaries are gross or net. Attempts to obtain confirmation or comments on these figures from the Presidency were unsuccessful, as both Mr. Sandor Walusimbi and his deputy Farouk Kirunda did not respond to repeated calls.