Private medics ask government for financial intervention

By Alice Lubwama

The Uganda medical and dental practitioners council is asking the government to support the private health units with salary relief and enhancements especially to the laid off staff during this challenging time of COVID 19 lock down.

While appearing before the parliamentary committee on national economy chaired by Syda Bumba to give a report on the impact of COVID 19 , the chairperson of Uganda medical and dental council Joel Okullo noted that many staffs were laid off and others sent on forced leave because the private facilities could not raise the money to pay for their services.

Okullo also appealed to government to give a tax waiver for investors who manufacture medical supplies in order to create sustainability in supplies because most of them are imported .

The council also requested the government to provide soft loans for local investors in the health sector especially those in rural areas so that the health professionals can invest in facilities that can provide sustainable services to the population of Uganda.

The council has also urged the government to expeditiously handle the national health insurance scheme bill so that it can be enacted into act so that the funds generated from the scheme will be placed back in the health system so as to reduce repeated borrowing for health projects.

The MPs on the committee however challenged the doctors on the Uganda medical and dental practitioner council to emulate their fellows in Madagascar and also to try their best to innovate and come up with a relief medicine for COVID 19 because the virus might stay around for some time.

Inter faith medical bureau demands for penalties for insurance late payments

By Alice Lubwama

The Inter Faith based medical Bureau coalition in Uganda wants the National Insurance scheme bill 2019 to have a penalty on unreasonable delays in processing and payment of claims to health care provider.

The coalition of the Faith Based Medical Bureau in Uganda comprised of the Uganda protestant Medical Bureau, Uganda Muslim medical Bureau, the Uganda orthodox medical Bureau and Uganda catholic medical Bureau, made the proposal while presenting their views on the proposed National Insurance scheme bill 2019 being scrutinized by the parliamentary health committee chaired Bukuya county legislator Dr.Micheal Bukenya.

The Executive secretary of the Uganda Catholic Medical Bureau Dr.Sam Orach says that while it is good that a health provider can lodge a complaint to the tribunal regarding delayed payment of claims, there should be consideration of penalty imposed on the scheme for the delayed payment beyond stipulated period provided in the law.

He justified that the delay and late payment shall cripple and compromise the timeliness and quality of service provision.

Orach also asked the committee to ensure that the law clarifies on who qualifies to benefit as a spouse of the contributor aware of the existence of polygamous marriages in Uganda which also reorganized by law.

They also recommend that health facilities which are not gazetted and registered by Uganda medical and Dental practitioner’s council are not accredited to ensure quality service delivery.

The group also submitted that the automatic qualification of all government health facilities as health care service providers under the scheme without being subjected to accreditation process is likely to be risky and contradict the primary objective of this law.

Uganda Blood transfusion services boss warns against medics against selling blood

By Wasswa Deo
Uganda blood transfusion services needs at least 22 billion Uganda shillings in coming financial year budget to be able them carry out it’s mandate  nationwide.
Dr. Dorothy Kyeyune, the executive director of the Uganda blood transfusion services says following the end of donor collateral funding, their budget got a deficit of 7 billion shillings.
According to her, this means that there is need of alternative funding to cover up the deficit and the  quicker alternative to this, is government funding.
Dorothy said this during the launch of the national wide blood donation campaign. It has been dubbed 77 days of donating blood aims at collecting 400 units of blood daily in the next 77 working days.
Uganda blood transfusion services will ran the campaign in conjunction with  two communication agencies, they aim at getting  and a total of 30800 units by the end of the campaign.
Dr. Dorothy, however warned  medical practitioners who sell blood to patients to stop it.  According to her , this is another form of corruption and urged whoever asked for money to access blood in health centers to desist from paying and also to go to nearest police station to report the case.

Soaring number of mental health patients overwhelm medics at Jinja hospital

Jinja Regional Referral Hospital is struggling to deal with mental health patients due to numerous challenges. Edith Alitwala, a senior Nursing Officer in the Psychiatry Department, says there are only four nurses instead of 8.

According to Alitwala, the number of mental health patients has almost doubled in the previous three months. She explains that they used to receive between 20 and 30 patients daily, but the number has increased to over 60 patients.

 Alitwala also notes that the unit is faced with a challenge of essential drug stockouts, adding that they have spent over two years without receiving Phenytoin and Injectable Fluphenzine, the two most essential drugs for mental illness.

URN spoke to Sarah Mudondo, a care take to one of the patients who has spent four weeks in the facility. She says that she spends more than Shillings 20,000 on drugs and food daily.

Alitwala emphasizes that the failure by the hospital to provide meals to the patients is a big setback. She says that in most cases they are forced to suspend medication to patients especially with HIV when they learn that the patient has not eaten.

She also cited insecurity as another challenge in the hospital. The mental health unit relies on the guards at the main gate, which is a very long distance from the unit.

“We have two nurses on night duty and there is a time when a patient wanted to strangle a nurse.  They had had to call security personnel at the main entrance, which is very risky,” she said.

The Mental health department of Jinja Regional Referral Hospital was established in 2010 following the decentralization of mental healthcare to regional referral hospitals to reduce at Butabika Referral Hospital.



Speakers hail the late Dr Mungherera for her devotion to the medical profession

By Charles Kizindo Lule
The late Dr Margaret Mungherera has been described as a hardworking, and devoted medical worker who will always be missed. Different speakers at a requiem mass at Makerere school of Medicine have praised Mungherera for her selfless way of executing duties.
She succumbed to cancer of the colony over the weekend in India. She will be buried this Saturday at here ancestral home in the eastern district of  Butalejja.

Government plans to increase medics’ lunch allowances

Parliament’s budget committee has recommended an increase in the monthly lunch allowance for medical workers across the country. The legislators are suggesting an allowance of 288,000 Shillings for nurses, doctors and other health workers bringing the lunch allocation to 12,000 Shillings per day, per person.

Government currently allocates a monthly allowance of 66,000 Shillings and 44,000 Shillings for doctors and nurses respectively. But Amos, Lugoloobi, the chairman of the budget committee argues that the allocation is insufficient.  He says that the rate which was determined in 1996 has not been revised over the last 20 years despite an increase in the cost of living.

Kasambya County MP Gaffa Mbwatekamwa says that a revision in the lunch allowance will improve the welfare of medical workers who he said use their little pay on accommodation, utilities and transport to work. There are 43,777 health workers on government payroll.

The recommendation is carried in the committee report on the national budget framework paper for the financial year 2017/2018.

Meanwhile, the budget committee also recommends another additional funding amounting to 645 billion Shillings towards the health sector. The money is to cater for among others, Hepatitis B vaccination, procurement of adequate suppliers of ARVs under the National Medical Stores (NMS), bringing staffing levels to at 72 percent in general hospital and others.

On construction and upgrading of health facilities, the budget committee recommends the provision of 164 billion Shillings required for upgrading of Health Centre IIIs to Health Centre IVs in 29 counties and an additional 247 billion Shillings for the construction of 93 Health Centre IIIs in sub-counties where no government facility exists today.

Santa Alum, the Oyam Woman MP told parliament how a Health Centre III in her constituency lacks clean water.

MPs also recommended another 49 billion to be allocated to the health ministry to carry out vaccination, testing and treatment of Hepatitis B in 20 districts that are at high risk.
Parliament resumes on Wednesday to debate the committee report before adopting it.



Uganda Medical doctors grande conference slated for this week

By Patricia Osman
The first ever Grande doctors conference is scheduled to take place this week in Kampala. The conference organized by the specialists association and the Uganda Medial Association will starts Thursday 11th and runs up to  13th of August in Kampala. The three day conference will run under the theme Implementing Sustainable Health related goals in Uganda,What is the role of the health provider?
The Uganda Medical Association brings together 5,000 medical doctors with a mission of advocating for quality health care and improved welfare of health workers.  Dr. Ekwaru Obuku Uganda Medical Association secretary general says President Yoweri Museveni is expected to close the conference on 13th of August.