As Virus Surges in Uganda, Hospitals Accused of Profiteering


FILE - In this Monday, May 31, 2021 file photo, a woman receives a coronavirus vaccination at the Kololo airstrip in Kampala, Uganda. Virus cases are surging in Uganda, making scarce hospital beds even more expensive, and concern is growing over the alleged exploitation of patients by private hospitals accused of demanding payment up front and hiking fees. (AP Photo/Nicholas Bamulanzeki, File)

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — As he struggled to breathe earlier this month, Dr. Nathan Tumubone was tormented by thoughts of hospitalization as a COVID-19 patient. Thinking of the costs involved, he knew he wanted to stay home.

He and his wife “steamed” up to five times a day, inhaling what they felt was the relieving vapor rising from a boiling concoction of herbs.

“The truth is I didn’t want to go to hospital,” said the general practitioner. “We’ve seen the costs are really high, and one wouldn’t want to get in there.”

As virus cases surge in Uganda, making scarce hospital beds even more expensive, concern is growing over the alleged exploitation of patients by private hospitals accused of demanding payment up front and hiking fees.

Uganda is among African countries seeing a dramatic rise in the number of infections amid a severe vaccine shortage. The pandemic is resurging in 12 of Africa’s 54 countries, the World Health Organization reported Thursday, saying the current wave is “picking up speed, spreading faster, hitting harder.”

Africa’s top public health official, John Nkengasong of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Thursday that Africa’s third wave is “very devastating” as the delta variant drives infections in many countries.

Just 1% of people across Africa have been fully vaccinated, and Uganda has vaccinated under 1% of its 44 million people. It has confirmed 75,537 infections, including 781 deaths. The actual totals are believed to be much higher because only a few thousand samples are tested daily.

Hospitals in cities including the capital, Kampala, report difficulties in finding bottled oxygen, and some are running out of space for COVID-19 patients. Intensive care units are in high demand.

Although the practice of requiring deposits from patients has long been seen as acceptable in this East African country where few have health insurance, it is raising anger among some who cite attempts to profiteer from the pandemic.

Without a national health insurance scheme, COVID-19 has highlighted that health care in Uganda is “commoditized, available to the highest bidder,” said Daniel Kalinaki, a columnist with the Daily Monitor newspaper.

“The lingering question is how did we go from a place where you paid what you could and made sure to clear your dues on your next visit, to one where patients will not be touched until the whiny-voiced bean counter in the accounts office confirms that their deposit has cleared?”

Many Ugandans don’t trust government hospitals, citing the decay they find there as well as the occasional lack of basic supplies. Top government officials routinely seek treatment abroad. Most people attend private facilities that have mushroomed across the country in the years since the health sector was opened up to private investors.

Some hospital bills shared by families of COVID-19 patients emerging from intensive care show sums of up to $15,000, a small fortune in a country where annual per capita income is less than $1,000.

Private hospital directors who spoke to the local press defended their fees policy, saying looking after COVID-19 patients is risky and not cheap.

Health authorities have said they are investigating allegations of exploitation.

Cissy Kagaba, a prominent anti-corruption activist who recently lost both parents to COVID-19, told The Associated Press she was shocked when the family received a bill of nearly $6,000 when her father was let out of an intensive care unit. “Risk allowances” and other items on the receipt looked suspicious, she said.

“When we saw the bill, we couldn’t believe how much it was,” she said, adding that alleged exploitation of patients mirrors rampant official corruption. “You cannot expect any different from them. If you have a government that exploits its own people, what do you expect from the private sector?”

Tumubone, the doctor who is recovering from COVID-19, said he panicked when it seemed he would need to go to a hospital. He and his wife experimented with home care, inhaling steam from the boiling leaves of guava, mango and eucalyptus trees.

Lockdown measures were tightened in Uganda last week. All schools have been ordered shut, a nighttime curfew remains in place, and only vehicles carrying cargo and those transporting the sick or essential workers are permitted to operate on the roads.

No comments

Thank you for reaching out to us. We are happy to receive your opinion and request. If you are need advert or sponsored post, We’re excited you’re considering advertising or sponsoring a post on our blog. Your support is what keeps us going. With the current trend, it’s very obvious content marketing is the way to go. Banner advertising and trying to get customers through Google Adwords may get you customers but it has been proven beyond doubt that Content Marketing has more lasting benefits.
We offer majorly two types of advertising:
1. Sponsored Posts: If you are really interested in publishing a sponsored post or a press release, video content, advertorial or any other kind of sponsored post, then you are at the right place.
Generally, a sponsored post can be any of the following:
Press release
Video content
This kind of post is usually written to promote you or your business. However, we do prefer posts that naturally flow with the site’s general content. This means we can also promote artists, songs, cosmetic products and things that you love of all products or services.
Every sponsored article will remain live on the site as long as this website exists. The duration is indefinite! Again, we will share your post on our social media channels and our email subscribers too will get to read your article. You’re exposing your article to our: Twitter followers, Facebook fans and other social networks.

We will also try as much as possible to optimize your post for search engines as well.

Submission of Materials : Sponsored post should be well written in English language and all materials must be delivered via electronic medium. All sponsored posts must be delivered via electronic version, either on disk or e-mail on Microsoft Word unless otherwise noted.
The price largely depends on if you’re writing the content or we’re to do that. But if your are writing the content, it is $60 per article.

2. Banner Advertising: We also offer banner advertising in various sizes and of course, our prices are flexible. you may choose to for the weekly rate or simply buy your desired number of impressions.

Technical Details And Pricing
Banner Size 300 X 250 pixels : Appears on the home page and below all pages on the site.
Banner Size 728 X 90 pixels: Appears on the top right Corner of the homepage and all pages on the site.
Large rectangle Banner Size (336x280) : Appears on the home page and below all pages on the site.
Small square (200x200) : Appears on the right side of the home page and all pages on the site.
Half page (300x600) : Appears on the right side of the home page and all pages on the site.
Portrait (300x1050) : Appears on the right side of the home page and all pages on the site.
Billboard (970x250) : Appears on the home page.

Submission of Materials : Banner ads can be in jpeg, jpg and gif format. All materials must be deliverd via electronic medium. All ads must be delivered via electronic version, either on disk or e-mail in the ordered pixel dimensions unless otherwise noted.
For advertising offers, send an email with your name,company, website, country and advert or sponsored post you want to appear on our website to omodjk(at)gmail(dot)com

Normally, we should respond within 48 hours.