UGANDA HEALTH CARE SYSTEM RIDDLED BY CORRUPTION, ABSENTISM AND EXTORTION

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A Public health care provider attends to a patient in one of Uganda’s health centers.

“Health care system in Uganda is very sick but the one who is suppose to heal it is very corrupt”

“Having a high rate of bribery introduces inefficiencies, unfairness, discrimination and unlawfulness in a critical component of the state’s responsibility of providing services and care for its population. Quiet corruption in the health care sector is widespread. Health workers absenteeism is highest at the Health Center III facility level and has since increased from 46.2% (percent) in 2009/10 to 51% (percent) in 2010/11”

GULU-UGANDA:In the year 2005, the Global Fund (GF) for HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis suspended all donations to Uganda when over $1.6 million dollars of grants went missing. Two officials in Uganda have been accused and sentenced for embezzlement of the GF monies.

“Healthcare system in Uganda is very sick but the one who is supposed to heal it is very corrupt” says Anti-Corruption Uganda in a report.

World Health Organization (WHO) says doctor to patient ratio in Uganda is 1:25,000. This is too low even by African standards yet the country churns out 200 graduates every year from universities. However, most of these graduate medics migrate to neighboring countries such as Rwanda where pay and working conditions are better than in Uganda.

WHO also says 40% (percent) of doctors and 50% (percent) of nurses in Uganda’s Public Health centers receive salaries but are always absent from duty.

Uganda’s Public Health care is the most corrupt in the East African region, according to the Inspector General of Government (IGG) report released to mark the International Anti-corruption Day 2010. The sector is fraught with bribery and absenteeism, effectively undermining the population’s health and the realization of the Millennium Development Goal.

Uganda’s bribery prevalence rate in public medical services is more than three times that of Kenya and almost twice that of Tanzania.

“Having a high rate of bribery introduces inefficiencies, unfairness, discrimination and unlawfulness in a critical component of the state’s responsibility of providing services and care for its population. Quiet corruption in the health care sector is widespread. Health workers absenteeism is highest at the Health Center III facility level and has since increased from 46.2% (percent) in 2009/10 to 51% (percent) in 2010/11”, writes Anne Mugisha in the State owned New Vision newspaper in 2010.

One man’s experience with corruption in one of Uganda’s health facility.

Mr. William Opio Bongonyinge visited Arua Regional Referral Hospital on Saturday, September 23, 2017 and shares his encounter with corruption by the health workers at the hospital.

“Having been unwell a day before and still felt uneasy that day, I walk to Arua Regional Referral Hospital and at the gate a watchman guides me through to the emergency unit. It was 08.35 am local time (05.35 GMT). There I find a number of people cued waiting to be attended to”

“In the surgical section are men and women standing presumed to have brought in an accident victim, they look terrified as to when something gets done to their patient.

“It was not until 10.00 am local time that two gentlemen come in to attend to us. One of them sits; peruses through a large register book and the other begins to assess a patient supported on a wheelchair and he quickly moves out.

“He comes in again after about 30 minutes and assesses more four patients and he refers them to the laboratory which at that time was not yet open. He continues to assess more patients and seems to reduce on the number. I was among those he referred to the laboratory.

“At the laboratory, I find a young woman who comes in at about 11.00 am. She orders the patients to get in one at a time and her voice sounds rude. I overheard her say to a patient; ‘CBC (complete blood count) reagent has since been out of stock’. She does not explain why.

“When it was my turn, I unassumingly get in and greet her in the local language. She smiles and shows a friendly presentation. She looks through my laboratory request form and says ‘widal test, typhoid? The reagent is since out of stock, however if you can pay, I can do it with my reagent’.

“How much is that”, I asked her.

“Three thousand shillings!” she exclaims.

Theft, diversion and resale of drugs are other sources of corruption which are documented to occur at the distribution point of pharmaceutical supply chain. There can be theft without falsification of inventory records, dispensing of drugs to patients who did not actually attend to pharmacy clinics, recording of drugs as dispensed to legitimate patients but the patients do not receive them, and dispensing of drugs to patients who pay for them but the health care providers keeps the fund for him. This makes Uganda to provide more funds to the health sector than most countries in the sub-Saharan Africa.

 

 

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