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September 21, 2021

Health Human Rights Organizations Drag Gov’t To Court For Failure To Harmonize Covid-19 Treatment Costs In Private Hospitals

Health Minister Ruth-Aceng

 

The Centre for Health Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) has sued the government for failing to reign in on health facilities, especially private hospitals who are charging exorbitantly for treating Coronavirus patients.

Many Ugandans have raised concern over the exorbitant charges by hospitals which go as high as shs5 million per day per patient, especially those in the Intensive Care Units and suffering from Covid.

Addressing journalists on Friday, Noor Nakibuuka, the Director of Programs at CEHURD said the health rights promotion organization was moved by several complaints of exorbitant fees to them by several members of the public.

“The rates charged by the hospitals are clearly exorbitant in nature and largely unbearable to vulnerable Ugandans seeking Covid treatment in hospitals amidst the pandemic and tough economic times. We are however surprised that no instrument has been issued to regulate the private sector as it supports the national response to Covid,” Nakibuuka said.

In the suit, the Attorney General, the Minister of Health and the Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners Council have been listed as respondents and according to CEHURD, government as a primary provider for health as a social good, it ought to have regulated the sector against exploitation by private individuals.

“It is just inconceivable that government would fail to ensure a functional public health system and also negate its primary duty of regulating costs charged by the private sector providing health services amidst a pandemic,” said Moses Mulumba, the CEHURD Executive Director.

According to the health rights promotion organization, it is unacceptable that some actors are profiteering from such a situation like the Covid pandemic.

“As effects of Covid-19 continue to ravage the country, more people are going to require treatment and management of the virus and since there is no regulatory framework to rein in private hospitals, these high charges will continue,” Mulumba said.

Quoting section 28 of the Public Health Act, the organisation said the law empowers the minister to make several regulations amid situations like the current Coronavirus pandemic.

“In the application, we, therefore, ask court to compel the Attorney General, the Minister of Health and the Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners Council to intervene and regulate medical fees chargeable by hospitals in the treatment and management of persons suffering from Covid as is their statutory obligation.”

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