Uganda: Opposition Demands Govt Action On Hiked Covid Bills

The Leader of Opposition (LoP) in Parliament, Mr Mathias Mpuuga, has tasked President Museveni's government to engage private hospital proprietors on 'exorbitant' Covid-19 treatment charges.

Currently, private hospitals charge between Shs2.5m and Shs5m per day and most of the patients are struggling to pay. There has been public outcry on social media for government to intervene.

Some of the private hospitals have come out to defend the charges as "justified" and reminded government that they are helping to fill the healthcare gap.

Hospital managers, who talked to Daily Monitor on Tuesday, asked the government to come in and grant them tax waivers, support them with personal protective equipment (PPEs), and utility bills in the treatment of patients.

In a statement issued yesterday, Mr Mpuuga decried the oxygen crisis and the deplorable state of public health facilities across the country.

"As long as government continues to look at these facilities as private entities, the cost of treatment will remain high, yet the spread of government facilities across the country is very limited," Mr Mpuuga said.

The LoP asked the government to do more to save people's lives.

"We are alive but most families can no longer afford a meal. Parents struggled to return their children to school before they were again sent home. Paying rent for both home and businesses is also deplorable," he added.

Other proposals

In a press statement released on Monday, Mr Mpuuga asked lawmakers to move a motion in Parliament, urging Finance Minister Matia Kasaija to allocate more funds towards the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines, ambulances, testing kits, drugs, oxygen cylinders, PPEs, and remuneration of medical personnel.

However, the call might be hampered by the closure of Parliament for two week after several legislators tested positive for the virus.

He also asked the President to assent to the NSSF Bill to enable savers access mid-term payments during and after the pandemic.

Mr Mpuuga faulted the government for closing schools after a number of students tested positive for the virus. He said the best option would have been to isolate them within the school premises.

"In the school environment, converting a dormitory(s) into an isolation treatment centre would have helped government easily identify and manage extreme Covid-19 cases," he said.

On Covid-19 medication, the Nyendo-Mukungwe MP said government should adopt a new healthcare system that involves families of the patients once they are admitted.

"In some of these facilities, families should be allowed to attend to their loved ones and given the same protection like the health workers," he said.

Mr Mpuuga said some families are reporting that their loved ones are dying in isolation.

In response to the Leader of Opposition's demands, Finance Minister Matia Kasaija said: "Why doesn't he [Mpuuga] write to me? Tell him to write to the Ministry of Finance and we look at what he is proposing... that will be faster and productive otherwise if he goes to Parliament, he will be wasting time and that will not solve the problems."

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