Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary Dr. Diana Atwine has revealed that they are working on a new law that will see government regulate charges in private health facilities.
Private health facilities have for the past few weeks been criticised for charging exorbitant prices to treat COVID-19 patients at a time when the country is grappling with a devastating second wave of the pandemic.
During her Saturday appearance on the NXT Big Talk Show on NXT Radio, Atwine said that a new law to regulate them is in the offing.
“Currently, we do not have law that supports us to dictate prices by private health facilities. We have a draft of an amendment that we shall take to the cabinet for approval and later Parliament,” Atwine said.
Some private health facilities charge as high as shs 5 million per day per patient, especially those in the Intensive Care Units and suffering from COVID-19.
Many of these have also been sighted in cases where COVID-19 patients die, and the body is withheld until full payments of over Sha 100 million for the whole treatment period are paid.
Atwine said that no facility should be allowed to ‘make a kill out of the situation.’
She added, “No hospital is supposed to retain a body because of a financial obligation. The Ministry of Health is concerned and has taken note of this practice by some facilities.”
Atwine said that as government on works on the new law, the health ministry has reached out to some of these health facilities that have been cited, to discuss the fees.
“We tasked them to provide us with a breakdown of their charges and justifications for them,” Atwine said.
“When we talked to them, some private facilities actually reduced their prices. It’s just that we are not fantasizing about it in the media,” she explained government action.
In a separate interview with NBS Television, Moses Mulumba, the executive director at the Center for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) supported the new law, saying this is a social service (health) that shouldn’t be left in the hands of private actors.
Mulumba said that what the private health facilities are doing is immoral, and government needs to come for them.
“Private service providers come to make money. The providers are taking on the delegated role of the state, they must have responsibility. The market forces don’t think that way, the government has got to come in to regulate,” Mulumba said.