Govt moves to regulate charges for Covid treatment

The Minister of Health, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng. PHOTO/ FILE

The Minister of Health, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, has said her ministry is in the final stages of creating harmonised and affordable medical bills for treatment of Covid-19 patients.
Dr Aceng said the move follows a court order that demanded that the ministry regulates the bills.
“The ruling of the court gave me powers to regulate Covid-19 treatment bills. We have been working on the prices and we shall soon come up with prices,” Dr Aceng said yesterday while launching a hub for the Center for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD),  a civil society organisation.

The High Court in Kampala issued orders in August.
“...An order is hereby issued against the respondents to intervene by making regulations on fees chargeable by hospitals on management and treatment of persons suffering from Covid-19,” ruled Justice Phillip Odoki on August 7.
“Secondly, an order is issued compelling the second respondent (Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners Council) to make recommendations to the ministry of health on reasonable fees for persons seeking and accessing Covid-19 treatment from hospitals,” he added.

The court orders arose out of a case filed by Mr Moses Mulumba, the executive director of CEHURD, who had sought court’s intervention over high medical bills that private hospitals were charging Covid-19 patients at the time.

 In the wake of the second wave of the pandemic mid this year, several private hospitals around Kampala city charged fees of between Shs3m and Shs10m per day in cases of Intensive Care Unit to treat Covid-19. The hospitals were also charging between Shs1m and Shs2.5m for moderately infected patients per day.Critics had described the said fares as “largely unbearable to many Ugandans, given the per capita income of $777 (Shs2.7m).” 
Some hospitals had reached an extent of detaining dead bodies of Covid-19 patients for failure of of footing the exorbitant bills.