It is #Day8 of the #UgBlogMonth 21 days challenge and the topic is what I think about Uganda’s Health care system, here we go.
The system has both private and public sectors with the public sector majorly supported by the government. Service delivery is decentralized within national, districts and health sub districts.
At the district levels are Health Center III and II, with Health Center II providing a first level of interaction between the formal health sector and communities. These provide outpatient and community outreach services. The Health Center III provides basic preventive, promotive and curative services.
The next levels are general hospitals, which provide Health Center III broad services such as surgeries and blood transfusions. They are also for research and training. The regional referrals provide a higher level with more specialized clinical services and also involve teaching and research.
The national referral hospitals are mostly comprehensive as they provide the highest level of specialist services in addition to all the other clinical services. The referral system is from the lowest to the highest level of care in the service delivery system.
In public facilities, services are meant to be free but there are stories everyday of health workers extorting money from patients who most times are desperate for these services. If it is not an issue of extortion then it is shortage of essential drugs which as a result have to be bought from pharmacies or other drug sellers.
Many citizens have less or no confidence at all in the system and occasionally high profile members of the society will be flown out of the country for these services. Sometimes, not even the referral hospital has the capacity to handle certain cases which has birthed fundraising campaigns like car washes to raise enough funds to fly ‘omuntu wawansi’ out of the country for treatment.
There is already enough negative publicity about the systems but for this blog I am choosing to mostly look the other way and focus on some of the positives especially in this period of covid19. There are definitely a few hiccups here and there but over the news numbers of positive cases keep going high every minute and the death toll is unbelievable, in other countries.
Statistics put the total confirmed global cases at 2.92 million, 829 thousand recoveries and 204 thousand deaths while Uganda has 75 confirmed cases, 46 recoveries and zero deaths according to a report from the Ministry of Health.
I believe the Minister of Health, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng and team have done such a commendable job, my heart swells with pride thinking about this.
About seven months back, my ears got clogged and I couldn’t hear well unless someone spoke close to my ear. I went to ‘Angelina Health Centre III’ located after the catholic shrine in Namugongo which is also my neighborhood.
I checked in at 8pm, and 30 minutes later my ears were flushed back to original settings at zero cost (I will tell the story of this process another day, be careful with those ear cotton swabs)..I was in shock that this was happening to me in Uganda in fact I walked away very slowly just in case the man had had a long day and forgot to charge me.
There is also some confidence that comes with being worked on by a mature (age) doctor, it feels like they have been in the field too long and have mastered the skill and so you are safe in their hands.
I think this is my Dad speaking in my mind now but old is gold, so they say- not sure it even applies here but let’s leave this at that.
Unfortunately this skill is being poached by foreign countries and the private sector because they are paid some good money unlike in the government hospitals where you will mostly be worked on by interns since the assigned doctors are on strike- they have not been paid for months.
With that said, maybe some day we shall not have mothers dying while giving birth because there was no doctor to attend to them or they couldn’t afford the private services/not insured or because the closest medical facility is far away and there was no immediate means to transport them.
I dream of a day when there will be just enough fully functioning and fully staffed medical facilities in every parish in the country.
I dream of a day when all the moneys allocated to such facilities is not selfishly embezzled.
I am the sparrow.