The Uganda Protestant Medical Bureau (UPMB) has addressed public concerns regarding the high charges imposed on patients by private not-for-profit (PNFP) health facilities, despite receiving an annual government grant.
Dr. Tonny Tumwesigye, the Executive Director of the Bureau, explained that many of these hospitals initially relied on donor aid, which has since ceased, leaving a gap that the government’s contribution cannot adequately fill, given the escalating number of patients seeking services.
Dr. Tumwesigye, speaking at the Annual Symposium held on Thursday, emphasized that several facilities, including Mengo Hospital in Kampala, operate with outdated infrastructure.
He stated that the generated funds are reinvested, especially considering the challenge of having to raise health worker salaries to retain specialists.
Mentioning the government’s annual grant of about 35 billion shillings to such facilities, including those managed by the Catholic Medical Bureau and the Muslim Medical Bureau, Tumwesigye noted that this amount is insufficient, given the high costs of service provision.
Following the presentation of the UPMB annual performance report, which indicated a surge in patient numbers, Tumwesigye highlighted the financial strain faced by PNFP hospitals.
Dr. Hillary Alima, the Director of Health Systems Strengthening and Membership Management, explained that in some regions, PNFP hospitals have become the primary healthcare providers due to the quality of care they offer.
Alima further mentioned that to enhance access and affordability, especially for rural communities, the UPMB network collaborates with community health insurance schemes. Sixty-three UPMB-run facilities currently provide this insurance, contributing to the organization’s efforts to make healthcare more accessible to all.