For this reason, the Ministry of Health is soon introducing guidelines that will make it impossible for Ugandans from accessing healthcare within and outside the country without a recommendation from a qualified health expert. The recommendation for medical referral abroad would likely come only if there are no capacity or facilities within the country to manage the health situation.
The revelation came during a media breakfast at Lourdel towers in Wandegeya, Kampala, where health ministry experts warned of the rising cost of medical referrals to the country.
The Commissioner for Clinical services in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Jackson Amone and the Director General health services, Dr. Henry Mwebesa said that although it’s a right for a patient to seek referral to better and faster services, sometimes this rule is being abused by the patients and some health workers in the country.
The health experts say, self referrals have seen many patients use too much money in sometimes wrong medications or even face more health complications which sometimes would cause loss of life.
The experts estimate that 20% of the referrals abroad are kidney transplants and 30% are neural surgeries which necessitates a Ugandan to part with not less than USD.40,000 compared to USD.5000 when treated from Uganda.
Now, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health, Dr. Diana Atwine says that they are in the process of rehabilitating all regional and national referral hospitals as well as re-equipping them to empower them to offer the required medical services as one of the means to reduce on and streamline the national health referral system.
“For a patient to be referred, they need to have a letter from a specialized medical officer indicating in details why they need a referral at that time. They leave health centres fours and threes in their areas and regions, and go to referrals and take all the medicines and after complain that their is no medicine in referral hospitals yet this medicine is distributed equally leaving it in facilities that are near them,” said Atwiine.
The last time the government cited these guidelines was during the time it prevented Members of Parliament Bobi Wine and Francis Zaake from leaving the country on grounds that the country had enough experts.
Human rights activists rejected the claim on grounds that the government was using it the guideline as a form of persecution by stopping the MPs from accessing better healthcare abroad.