The administration of Luwero Hospital has asked the District Executive to lift the suspension of the private wing at the facility to allow patients to access better and cheap health services.
Health financing in Uganda is largely out of pocket and the direct out-of-pocket health expenditure stands at 37%, majority of which goes to the
In the current health policy, private wings are avenues to raise additional funds to improve the quality of services, and increase the take home package for health workers in public facilities.
A number of hospitals in Uganda provide a private wing service and last year, Luwero Hospital started a private wing with the aim of improving health service delivery.
However, in May this year, Luwero district council passed a resolution suspending the operations of the private wing until further notice citing complaints of extortion from residents. The councilors argued that the medics were ignoring patients without money in preference for those who can pay in the private wing.
The council also argued it had discussed and passed a policy guiding the operations and fees of the private wing. They also raised fears that drugs from the public facility could end up on sale in the private pharmacy.
On Tuesday, Dr. Innocent Nkonwa, the Medical Superintendent of Luwero Hospital described the decision by the council as rushed and unfair in a meeting with the LC V Chairperson, Erastus Kibirango and District Speaker, Abdul Mazinga among other Executive Committee members.
He explained that prior to the establishment of the private wing the administrators of the hospital and the management committee undertook a survey to understand how the private wings at Nakaseke and Kitagata Hospitals operate. He explained that they drafted a clear policy for the operations and accountability of the facility.
Nkonwa revealed that he was never given chance to defend their decision to start the private wing and asked the Executive to consider lifting the suspension to enable residents to access better services.
“If there were any shortcomings, those could have been isolated cases and the benefits of establishing the private wing outweighs them. So I ask you to reconsider the resolution and lift the suspension,” Nkonwa told the district leaders.
Herbert Sekabira, a member of Luwero Hospital Management Committee said they introduced the private wing in good faith, saying it had helped patients to access better services at an affordable cost.
Sekabira explained that the facility had better medical equipment compared to private health centers and patients only needed to pay a small fee to get better services.
Sekabira said if there were irregularities, the district ought to help to address them and re-instate the private wing to help the residents. However, the LC 5 Chairman declined to lift the suspension, saying the matter has to return to the district council for fresh scrutiny.
Kibirango also asked the Medical Superintendent to provide a write up detailing how the private wing will function and ensure continuity of free services.
The issue of the private wing at Luwero hospital has generated mixed reactions from residents. Some of the residents say there is no need to rush to operate the private wing whereas others say it can exist provided it is managed well.
Joan Namuleme, a resident of Luwero town says that they are fears that health workers may pay much attention to patients in private wards compared to those in the public wards. Private wings are avenues to raise additional funds to improve the quality of services and increase the take home package for health workers in public facilities.