Minister Urges Upgrade to Three-Phase Transformers for Hospitals’ Power Needs

The deficient power supply to hospitals across the country poses a challenge in operating key equipment, according to the Minister of Health, Hon. Jane Ruth Aceng, who addressed MPs on the issue.

Aceng revealed that despite the procurement of high-capacity oxygen plants for all specialized and regional referral hospitals, the power delivered by the single-phase transformers to the facilities cannot run the equipment. According to available information, typically, single-phase transformers distribute power to end users in domestic and residential settings, and the hospitals need three-phase transformers for adequate power supply. Aceng urged the Ministry of Energy to connect health facilities to industrial lines to resolve this issue.

“The Ministry of Energy is aware. All the hospitals need three-phase transformers but are connected to one-phase transformers. My humble appeal is that our health facilities are connected to industrial lines,” she said.

To protect against future threats related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the minister informed the parliament that all 16 regional referral hospitals were each equipped with 10 intensive care units. However, these operations are also challenged by unstable power supply.

Concerns were raised by legislators regarding the state of hospitals in handling COVID-19 cases and other health conditions faced by Ugandans. Hon. Henry Kibalya (NRM, Bugabula County South) inquired about the promises made to regional referral hospitals after the COVID-19 surge and requested an update on the progress of hospital equipment. Nwoya District Woman Representative, Hon. Judith Acan, highlighted the impact of unstable power supply on hospital operations, particularly the inability to use essential machines due to power shortages.

“There are tendencies at hospitals where they switch off power and say they do not have enough funds to pay for electricity bills. How are patients supposed to use machines that require this power?” Acan queried.

Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa, observed that Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) often divert funds meant for utilities and under budget for such priorities during the budget cycle.He proposed deducting money for utilities at the source to ensure timely payments to utility companies.

“One of the solutions we talked about is deducting money for utilities at source so that we pay utility companies right away,” Tayebwa said.

Tayebwa directed the Prime Minister to convene an inter-ministerial meeting involving the Ministers for Health, Energy, and Finance to address the situation of single-phase transformers in hospitals.

“I want you to meet with the Ministers for Health, Energy and Finance to address the situation of the one-phase transformers in hospitals, and give a report to the House within 30 days,” Tayebwa guided.

Regarding concerns about vaccine safety, Hon. Susan Amero (Indp., Amuria District Woman Representative) questioned the health minister about potential complications arising from vaccines. Kamwenge District Woman Representative, Hon. Sylvia Bahireira, expressed worries about the myths surrounding vaccination side effects, which have led to hesitancy among the public. In response, Aceng urged legislators to caution their constituents against anti-vaxxers and misinformation. She emphasized the importance of relying on published research and verified information to dispel vaccine-related myths.