The Minister for Health Dr. Ruth Aceng says it is unacceptable for private facilities to charge COVID-19 patients 5 million Shillings daily for admission and treatment.
Local media reported show that some private facilities are charging patients between 2 million and 5 million Shillings daily for admission, intensive care unit costs such as oxygen consumption among other items.
Sections of the public have asked the ministry to intervene because most of public health facilities where COVID-19 treatment is free are filling up very fast due to the surging number of critical cases.
Now, Aceng says that the health ministry has noted these concerns and has asked the Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners Council-UMDPC to investigate the claims and see what can be done to reduce the costs.
Dr Katumba Ssentongo, the registrar Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners Council (UMDPC) says the Council has been notified of the issue and will be meeting today – Friday to discuss the way forward.
Dr. Aceng protested the preposterous charges after receiving 175,200 doses of the AstraZenca Vaccine from the French government. The handover ceremony took place at the National Medical Stores Head offices in Entebbe on Thursday.
The new doses bring to 1, 139,200, the number of COVID-19 doses received in the country. The first two batches, totaling 964,000 doses arrived in the country in March and are expected to expire by July 10th, 2021.
Aceng lauded the French government for the donation, saying the doses are timely because Uganda has used up all the 964,000 doses it received in March from the Covax facility and the Indian government.
She noted that 869,915 people have so far been vaccinated and the remaining 94,085 doses have also been utilised but the records of recipients are still being processed.
“Every dose was utilised effectively,” she said. “We have not had any expiries. There were wastages but this was balanced out by the extra doses in some of the vials. The vials were expected to vaccinate ten people but some vials could vaccinate between 10 to 13 people.”
She added that the demand for vaccination has increased because Uganda is recording an average of 1,000 new cases per day and also high numbers of deaths.
Aceng however urges the public to observe the standard operating procedures and be responsible as the most effective vaccine against contracting COVID-19.
She noted that the latest batch of doses will be given to teachers and workers in schools, health workers, the elderly, those who have underlying conditions such as diabetes and hypertension and also people who are due for their second jab.
The French Ambassador to Uganda Jules-Armand Aniambossou says that his government will provide more vaccines to Uganda and other African countries because President Emmanuel Macron believes that African countries need to access the vaccines.
He added that Macron has been vocal in advancing global solidarity for tackling the pandemic and some of these efforts include supporting the COVAX facility. The COVAX Facility is the global pooled procurement mechanism for COVID-19 vaccines through which COVAX will all 190 participating economies will access the vaccines. So far 139 countries including 44 African countries have received over 81 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from COVAX facility.
Barbara Nel, the Africa Region Country President for AstraZeneca says the vaccine accounts for 94.61 percent of the vaccines supplied by COVAX. The facility has supplied 76.7 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine to 127 countries including 38 African countries like Uganda.
Dr. Munir Safieldin, the UNICEF Representative in Uganda and Alex Chimbaru, the Head of Emergencies Department at World Health Organisation in Uganda, have lauded the French government and other partners for donating vaccines to low resourced countries.
They have urged the public to embrace the vaccination exercise and most importantly avoid crowds, wear face masks when in public among other SOPs.
NMS General Manager Moses Kamabare says the 175,200 COVID-19 vaccines which are currently stored in the agency’s cold room will be distributed after NMS has received the distribution list from the health ministry.
Catherine Makumbi Ntabadde, the UNICEF country communication specialist, says Uganda is expected to receive another batch of 688,000 vaccine doses in August.
She noted that these doses will be administered to people who will be getting their second jab.
Uganda gave UNICEF US$ 11million, about 38 billion Shillings to procure COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX facility, with the aim of vaccinating 21 million people in a phased manner.
Ntabadde says Uganda will receive a total of 8 million doses from the COVAX facility as donations and will procure the remaining doses using the money it has given to UNICEF.