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Ugandans need to start saving for their health

Christine Namanyanja the chief party USAID Uganda Voucher plus Activity (FILE PHOTO)

KAMPALA- Godfrey Galiwango, a male residing in Katuugo Luwero District who has beneficiary from Katuugo Luwero Community Health Insurance Scheme says that over 10 years, seeking treatment was very costly.

When a friend introduced him to this idea, like any other, he was hesitant but when he decided to begin saving, seeking medical services which used to be a nightmare has become a beacon of hope for the community hailing from this very community.

When a family member falls sick, members can access treatment at any time and this is one of the motivating factors that have led several people to join the scheme.

According to Christine Namanyanja the chief party USAID Uganda Voucher plus Activity, Galiwango is just one of the many Ugandans(more than 200 ) members who decided to come together to save something for their health.

There is no better way to encourage people to save for their health because it saves them the stress of queuing for long hours in health facilities when they need services.

“Ugandans should embrace the culture of saving for their health in a bid to access high quality services. For example, we have sell anti natal cards which entitles an expectant mother to own it because it will go a long way to motivate them to own up their own health,” Namayanja notes.

Namayanja adds that when people save, it will become very easy for government to top up to ensure that everybody is able access treatment when in need.

Remember government can’t take care of everyone’s medical services.

Namayanja explains that it’s sad that the poor can’t access services when they need it and yet majority spends pay out of pocket which continues to push them into poverty.

Adding that when people are mobilized to save, it means that even after this 5-year project elapses, the local capacity will be sustained.

The Executive director for Save for Health Uganda, Fredrick Makaire describes community health financing as an arrangement for simplifying access to health care where a group of people voluntarily agree to pool resources and share the health risks.

Community health insurance (CHI) is one of the community health financing instruments for mitigating shocks caused by ill-health and improving access to healthcare for low-income families.

“The other CHF instruments include voucher schemes, community health funds, health funds, health revolving funds. Benefits of CHF include protecting families from catastrophic expenses which would result from high medical bills; making financial access to health services easy; increasing cost recovery for healthcare providers because of reduced runaway cases and defaulters; mobilizing additional resources for healthcare, among others,” Makaire notes.

History of CHF in Uganda

The first CHF scheme in Uganda was established in 1996 at Kisiizi Hospital in Rukungiri District with support from government and Kingdom of United department for International development (DFID).

Following the successful piloting of the scheme, other schemes started coming up.

These were promoted by non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations, community self-help groups, religious institutions, and healthcare providers.

Current status

The CHF schemes registered under the Uganda Community based Health Financing Association (UCBHFA) are distributed in 20 districts (12 western, 7 central and eastern) covering about 152,000 people.

The member of these schemes receives healthcare services from 50 health care facilities at various levels. The healthcare facilities include government, private- for- profit and private –not-for-profit.

Founded in 2002, SHU is a national NGO with a mission to improve the quality of health of Ugandans through community health financing approaches.

SHU is currently promoting CHI schemes in 10 districts including Luwero, Nakaseke, Nakasongola, Mubende, Mityana, Masaka, Bushenyi, Sheema and Mitooma, covering 35,000 people. At national level, SHU is advocating for fair National health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and represents CHI promoters on the NHIS taskforce.

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