The case of poor service delivery in Uganda’s health sector

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This January, I was exposed to a challenge that tossed my person back and forth from hospital, work and home. In the middle of all the emotional and financial stress, my brain ran further than my legs would carry me in searching for the solution to this unsolvable riddle. Moving around with my close patient I land in one of the newest government ‘hospitals’, the doctor on duty tells me, “The drugs are not available, so you will have to go and buy” writes the prescription and off he goes. It does not only happen once, but recurrently and I get used to it. A thank you follows, with the ease that my patient has been assisted, though an economic burden is waiting to be carried

Two weeks on, I switch to Mulago as a national referral hospital, I expected better though not the best services. The doctor is kind enough to tell my family members and I how the operation is going to cost not more than 3.5M including all the surgery, drugs, healthcare and amenities on 6C. After losing a lot of money in the trial and error state, a sigh of relief comes as I whisper to myself much money is gone already and nothing is done, why not spend more and get the operation done.

Communication runs around as I tell family, the operation has to be done as soon as possible to save life. Family agree with my idea, but alas no money. On getting to the billing clerks, an invoice of 4.6M is given. Hmmm!! Over 1M extra, how do I explain to the family that the bill has been inflated by that much!! The question lingers in my head a lot, but I had to share this info ASAP as I would not cater for the bill individually. Yeah, my suspicion is quite right, people think am going to chop the money. Is it true??? Hell no. Little do people know that this is just the beginning and more money is needed yet!

To cut the long story short the appointment for operation is scheduled for a Monday afternoon. Operation cannot be done, because there is no water. As an inquisitive chap, I probe further. Only to be told that National Water demands for over 30B for clearing the hospital water bill. Sure!!! As am still startled, some one prominent remarks that, “When you are busy on a pickup, van and/or truck excited about campaigns and you happen to get an accident, be rest assured that you will come and die here; because the money that would have bought drugs, other equipment and paid water is the money that was given to you to buy your vote and conscience.”

A day later, operation is done successfully, Thank God!!! As soon as the patient is returned from theatre, am told to buy drugs ranging from tablets to those for injections. As a good girl and for the sake of my patient I do the needful. At the end of the week she is discharged with a prescription of drugs to buy including paracetamol. All thanks to the doctors and nurses, your role was well played in the midst of crisis. How are they meant to save lives without first aid prerequisites?

Where does the money for effective running of the hospitals go? Thank God my family and I were able to pool the money and run around. What happens to those who cannot afford????? What happens to patients badly off with no attendants to run around????
Is it the tax payers’ money going for campaigns, instead of helping them access better and quality services?
Oh Uganda may God uphold thee!

Article by

Irene Murungi