The State House Anti-Corruption Unit boss Col. Edith Nakalema has lashed out at private hospitals that are charging Covid-19 patients exorbitant fees saying that is not acceptable.
She made the remarks during a consultative meeting between government, private health providers, Covid-19 national task force and experts to discuss a way forward on the exorbitant charges of Covid-19 patients and provide solutions to the public outcry.
Nakalema said the unit has registered 496 complaints about exorbitant charges of Covid-19 treatment in private hospitals noting that they had to respond by coordinating with senior colleagues in government on the Covid-19 task force and State House Health Monitoring Unit.
“We all know that this Covid-19 pandemic has heavily affected the whole world, Uganda inclusive, so apart from being a public health issue it’s also an issue of national security. Some of our fellow Ugandans are out there dying because they cannot breathe, they cannot get admission to hospital beds, they cannot find the right treatment quickly enough,” she told the meeting.
She said there are many Ugandans who are dying in their homes simply because they cannot afford the high hospital fees. She said this was “unacceptable.”
Many private hospitals are charging Covid-19 patients between Shs 2 million and 5 million per day if one is in ICU. Others are asking upfront payment of up to Shs 10 million before admitting the patients.
Dr. Medard Bitekyerezo, the chair board of trustees National Drug Authority (NDA) said that they have ensured that drugs are available and those that aren’t available, hospitals have import licenses.
He said that there hasn’t been an increase in the prices of drugs due to the pandemic expressing his disappointments towards hospitals which are charging exorbitantly.
Prof Joel Okullo ,the chairman, Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners Council told the medical fraternity that it is not time to make profit.
The medical practitioners agreed to review the current prices especially on oxygen and to ensure to stick to the guidelines and rationalize drug use especially antibiotics.
They also agreed that a payment plan is going to be given to the aggrieved families in case they are not able to pay immediately asking the government to increase ICU beds in public hospitals in preparation for the next waves of Covid-19.
They asked the government to approach the utility companies to reduce the cost of electricity and water and ventilators that are not being used in the national referral hospitals to be rented to the private sector.