KAMPALA —A total of 40 private hospitals and clinics in Kampala Metropolitan have been accredited by the ministry of health to collect COVID-19 samples.
Dr Charles Olaro, the director of curative services at the ministry of health says that the move is aimed at bringing services nearer to people. He says that the new facilities will make sample collection easier.
“We want to improve services and make them more available to the people who need them; we hope that this will also reduce on the turnaround time for results to be released, as we have been having a problem with this,”he said.
According to the health ministry, all accredited facilities have received sufficient training on sample collections.
Dr Grace Ssali, the executive director of the Uganda Health Federation says the accreditation of health services will help patients. “It means a lot especially for our patients,” Ssali said. “Now we do not need to send our patients elsewhere. They trust us and now when they come to us, we shall be able to get them tested for COVID-19 if need be instead of referring them elsewhere as has been the case.”
Once they have collected, the facilities then send the samples to designated testing laboratories that carry out testing. However, people who wish to have their samples tested at any of the newly accredited centres will have to part with hefty sums of money. At Mukwaya General Hospital for example, one will have to pay shillings 300,000 to get their sample picked and sent to a laboratory for testing.
The accredited facilities Medipal International Hospital, Victoria Hospital, Abii Clinic, SAS Clinic, Wandegeya Medical Chambers, MBN Clinical Lacoratires, platinum Hopsital,Norivck Hospital, Kamwokya Christian Care Center, Mukwaya Generla Hospital, Paragon Hospital, Rubaga Hospital, Mildmay Hospital, Mengo hospital, Doctors’s Clinic Seguku,Lifelink Clinic Namugongo, International Hospital Kampala, Nsambya Hospital, Span Medcare, Kampala Independent Hospital and Lifelink Hospital-Ntinda.
Other hospitals include; Kawempe Women’s Hospitaol, St Stephens Hospital-Mperere, Kyadongo Medical Center, Ebenezer Laboratory, Kitante Medical Centre, Malcolm Clinic, Case Hospital, Nakasero Hospital, Kampala Hospital-Kololo, Old Kampala Muslim Hospital, Kibuli Muslim Hospital, Makerere University Hospital, St Catherine’s Hospital, Ruby Medical Center, Iran Uganda Hospital, Medical Hub Facility and St Maries’ Medical Service in Entebbe.
Outside Kampala Metropolitan, ADC Diagnostic Laboratory in Lira and City Medical Center in Mbarara were also accredited.
The accredited facilities will back up eight government facilities that have been collecting samples in Kampala and Wakiso. These include; Kiswa Health Center IV, Kitebi Health Centre IV, Kisenyi HC IV,Kawala HC IV, Kasangati HC, Kiira HC, Ndejje HC IV, and Komamboga HC IV.
Uganda Health Federation’s Dr Ssali says that not all people will have to pay, “We have entered an agreement with the ministry and only those people who are not symptomatic and might be testing for travel purposes will have to pay this fee. Those who have COVID-19 symptoms will be tested for free.”
The high fees attached to testing and sample collection are likely to leave out many people. Ssali says that there’s no other way the facilities can carry out sample collection or testing without charging for it.
“These facilities have to buy for PPE and even pay the laboratories to carry out expedited testing,” she said. “They cannot use the same gowns and gloves to test people. Everyone who comes needs something new. These things are expensive. The facilities do not make a lot of money off testing.”
As of January 20,2021, Uganda, a total 38,809 cases of COVID-19 have been reported with 316 deaths. According to scientists, the country can only trace 10 percent of infected persons through testing. Whether the new sample collection sites will improve testing capacity will be determined with time.