Health workers at Masindi General Hospital have been accused of asking for bribes from patients before delivering service. The vice has reportedly become so rampant denying the poor patients services that should be free. They accuse the health workers of charging exorbitant amounts of money for patients to receive treatment at the facility.
Patients accessing health services at the facility and leaders in the district in an interview have raised a red flag urging the Ministry of Health and the President’s medicines monitoring unit to take interest.
They say health workers at the facility take advantage of some desperate patients to demand for money.
Information obtained by Uganda Radio Network-URN indicates that to access services at the hospital’s Theater, a patient is charged between shillings 150,000 to 400,000 depending on the negotiation.
Rose Basemera, a resident of Kijura, in Masindi Municipality, explains that she was asked to pay shillings 150,000 for her sister’s minor surgery at the hospital.
Pamela Nyakato, the Masindi district Secretary for finance, planning, and administration, said health workers at Masindi General Hospital refused to work on her patient until she paid money.
Vicky Atim, a resident of Kabango town council told URN that expectant mothers have to pay between 350,000 to 400,000 for a caesarian operation.
She says the vice has become a big challenge to effective health service delivery in the district.
Dr. Vincent Katusiime, the Acting Medical Superintendent at Masindi General Hospital confirmed that he has received several complaints about the conduct of some health workers.
He revealed that the administration recently summoned some of the accused health workers for disciplinary action and that their names were sent to the district service commission for disciplinary action.
According to Katusiime, some of the victims do not report the matter promptly to the supervisors of the health workers.
He appealed to other leaders, including politicians, security, and civil servants, to join the fight against extortion.
Cosmas Byaruhanga, the Masindi District LCV Chairperson said it is unethical for health to extort money from patients. He said the vice is tainting the image of health workers and the hospital at large.
He stressed that people who seek medical services at government facilities can’t afford services at private health facilities, so extortion and bribery should not be practiced.
Dr. Jjingo Abiriga, the acting District Health Officer-DHO Masindi said some of the accused health workers have already been identified and that they are undergoing investigations.
He rallied the public not to fear but promptly report such health workers for action to be taken.
He further stated that the administration of the health facility has on several occasions warned health workers against extortion but some have kept a deaf ear.