By David Mafabi
JINJA – Although under Universal health care quality medical services ought to be provided to all citizens regardless of their ability to pay, at Jinja Intensive Care Unit [ICU] will cost a taxpayer Shs 200,000 as admission fee per day.
This means that the sheer cost of providing quality health care makes universal health care large expense to the patient again.
Dr Edward Nkurunziza, the hospital director, said yesterday that Jinja Regional Referral Hospital will not offer free Intensive Care Unit to patients who have been referred to the facility for further management.
“But a patient to receive ICU services at the facility, he or she will be required to part with Shs200, 000 and this money will maintain the ICU facility,” said Dr Nkurunziza 17 October.
The ICU was constructed with funding from Assist International, a US-based NGO to decongest Mulago National Referral Hospital.
This development follows reports that the facility has been lying idle since it was commissioned in 2011, primarily to decongest Mulago hospital.
He added: “There are no free services of ICU in hospitals and I think government this time is not ready or lacks money to provide such (free)services to patients. Like any other hospital, patients have to pay for such services.”
Dr Nkurunziza added that the hospital administration will charge each patient recommended for ICU services Shs200,000 upon admission per day, while other bills will follow later – but depending on what has been administered on the patients.
The Ministry of Health Spokesperson, Mr Emmanuel Ainebyoona, when contacted on the development, said the hospital administration should ensure that patients receive services once referred for ICU services.
“You know, some hospital administrators have their internal arrangements on how to give services to the patients. If the hospital management is charging a maintenance fee, it is up to them. But the Ministry of Health will come and give guidelines regarding that matter,” said Mr Ainebyoona.
He said that much as this is a government facility, ICU services are very expensive and patients are required to contribute some minimal fees to keep the facility functional.
Government hospitals have varying rates for ICU facilities. Mulago hospital charges Shs 1million per week but they are considering revising the rates. Private facilities charge up to Shs 2m per week.