Crime

STOLEN OXYGEN CYLINDERS RECOVERED

By Our Reporter

JINJA: 15 oxygen cylinders believed to have been stolen from Jinja Regional Referral Hospital have surfaced at Krishna Industries Ltd factories the gas production Factory.

The police was able to recover the cylinders in an operation carried out on Tuesday night. They also picked up one of the administrators of Krishna in the ongoing investigations about the theft of 18 oxygen cylinders from the hospital between September 2021 and February 2022.

The administrator joined an unspecified number of health workers, security guards, and drivers who were earlier arrested as prime suspects in connection to the missing oxygen cylinders.

He was released this morning after linking detectives to two prime suspects, who allegedly sold to him an undisclosed number of cylinders in January 2022. The suspects are locked up at Jinja central police station awaiting prosecution.

A stock report extracted from the hospital records department indicates that the store department was entrusted with 222 oxygen cylinders sourced from the National Medical Stores (NMS) and donors to manage severe Covid-19 cases between 2020 and 2021.

According to the source, 130 oxygen cylinders vanished from the hospital between September 2021 and January 2022 whereas 22 others were stolen in February 2022. However, the hospital administrators were reluctant to investigate the matter despite being notified about the missing oxygen cylinders.

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The source noted that some senior health workers under the pretext, of extending home-based healthcare to severe Covid-19 patients took cylinders but never returned them after use.

“Most of them would say that they needed to save lives and it was time-wasting to sign for the cylinders before exiting the hospital since patients were in a dire state and required urgent healthcare.

However, these health workers, some of whom were transferred to other areas have never returned the cylinders to date,” the source said.

Kiira Regional police spokesperson, James Mubi says that an estimated 152 oxygen cylinders valued at Shs 91.2 million disappeared from the hospital within six months. Mubi says that there is a huge racket of health workers involved in the theft of oxygen cylinders spread across different hospitals within the Busoga sub-region.

He says that police have stepped up efforts to down the prime suspects and their ring leaders for prosecution.

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