If death could be bribed, the rich men would never die, this old African saying has come to life as new light is shown on Ugandan doctors over charging Covid-19 patients for treatment. After all, once diagnosed, one is ready to pay any amount to rid themselves of the dreaded virus, so the doctors put two and two together and charge more.
Here is the shocking and even upsetting if not downright despicable testimonial of a patient who was been swindled after he was diagnosed positive of Covid-19. He speaks of what happens as he is admitted in to a private hospital in Uganda mid last month.
“After two days of admission, the hospital told me they needed me to advance some money, $750…I did not have it anyway…when discharging me, that’s when they gave me the full medical bill of $2,482.”
This is just one patient, but he represents the hundreds, maybe thousands of others who were forced to unwittingly pay huge sums of money for the treatment of Covid-19. The trend would have carried on were it not brought to light by one Moses Mulumba, Head of the Center for Health, Human Rights and Development, a health advocacy organization, who petitioned the High Court of Kampala.
Thanks to his petition, the court has now ruled that Health Ministry and the Attorney General’s office must intervene. The court ordered that there must be regulations set to govern the charging for treatment of Covid-19 even in private hospitals.
The court called for hwat it described as ‘reasonable fees’ to charged by hospitals for management and treatment of COVID-19 patients.
To do this, the court has asked the Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners Council to issue recommendations to the Minister of Health giving them what can be described as a reasonable amount chargeable for the treatment and COVID-19.
Committing further Mr. Mulumba, Head of the Center for Health, Human Rights and Development said; “When it comes to a pandemic like COVID-19, the minister should invoke her powers under the public health legislation and regulate the (actors) hospitals. Because we believe that the actors are part of the national response. And if they are part of the national response, they need to see themselves as such and not just as businessmen.”
So it pans out that the private hospital seeing there was no regulations in the treatment of the novice virus seized opportunity and opted to make their businesses even more profitable. However, at what cost did they earn the extra shilling, what was the price paid to enrich these unscrupulous businessmen who instead of living up to the demand of their positions as doctors and upholding their oaths and vows as health caretakers, they instead chose to revert to placing their fat pockets ahead of the well being of their fellow human beings.
The price was dear and it is the common man who suffered the worst toll. Families were heartbroken leaving loved ones in hospital to go sell off what they can to pay for the inflated bills and in some cases, removing the sick patient from hospital to avoid the unreasonable bills.
Regulating Covid-19 Treatment in Uganda
After the Court delivered its ruling, Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka was quick to respond pledging that the issued court order would be followed to the letter.
“We are going to advise the Ministry of Health to comply with the order of Court,” local news quotes the legislator.
He said thereafter, the Ministry of Health and the Medical Council, following their deliberations and consensus, after engaging with medical practitioners and other stakeholders will then get back to court with the their findings and indicative fees.
Notably, the most expensive part of the treatment of Covid-19 turns out not to be the medication but rather the related equipment and gear. As the Uganda Health Care Federation estimates, almost half (45 percent) of patient bills are driven by personal protective equipment, oxygen and medication.
Revealing The Figures: Tanzania Covid-19 Data
After withholding the data on Covid-19 patients in the country for almost an entire year, Tanzania has now turned around and made the data public. For the first time in more than a year, Tanzania released figures on coronavirus, confirming 100 cases since a third wave of infections began, the VOA reported.
Though Tanzania had denounced Covid-19 vaccines, incumbent President Samia Hassan now says the country has budgeted a whooping $470 million to buy COVID-19 vaccine going in direct contrast to his predecessor, the late President John Magufuli.
Similarly Tanzania’s health ministry went ahead and warned the country’s citizens that a third wave of COVID-19 infections was spreading across Africa and extra caution should be taken.
This is in direct contrast to the stance that had been taken by the Dr. Magufuli who had ordered withholding of the data and permitted business as usual even as the first two waves rocked the rest of the world.