The Ministry of Health is investigating private hospitals that are charging COVID-19 patients exorbitantly. This follows reports that private health facilities are charging as much as 5 Million Shillings daily to provide care for the patients.
Dr Monica Musenero, the senior presidential advisor on epidemics and also the recently appointed minister in charge of Science and Innovation in the office of the president says it is unrealistic for private health facilities to charge such exorbitant prices.
She says the health ministry needs to come to an understanding with private health facilities to streamline costs of care.
“We are overwhelmed and people are seeking health care in private facilities but this does not mean that private providers should charge 60 million-plus to treat patients. This is a lot of money. This cannot be business as usual. We need to bring private health facilities on board and find a streamlined price because, in the middle of an epidemic, we cannot charge people such amounts of money,” she said.
The Minister of Health, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng says that what the private hospitals are doing is deplorable and needs to be stopped.
According to data from the health ministry, 950 patients are currently admitted to different health facilities in the country. However, many of these are admitted in private hospitals while some government facilities such as Mulago National Referral Hospital are only 24 percent occupied.
Aceng however quickly adds that patients should seek care in facilities that they can afford. She says some patients are finding it hard to be referred to government facilities for care because they prefer private health facilities.
Dr Grace Sali, the Executive Director of the Uganda Health Federation, an umbrella body that brings together private health providers says the health ministry’s investigation will help cast a light on the cost of health care in the country.
She says private health facilities cannot charge the same amount of money as government-funded facilities.