Mengo Hospital, one of the hospitals under the Uganda Protestant Medical Bureau.

Why Private Not-For-Profit Hospitals Charge Exorbitant Fees?

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The Uganda Protestant Medical Bureau (UPMB) has come out to clear its facilities’ image over the concerns by the public that Private-not-for-profit (PNFP) health facilities are unfortunately charging patients highly for services despite receiving an annual grant from the government.

Dr Tonny Tumwesigye, the Executive Director of the bureau says the majority of these hospitals were initially receiving aid from donors who have since pulled out and yet the contribution by the government cannot match the rising number of patients seeking services in such facilities.

Tumwesigye who was speaking to URN on the sidelines of their annual symposium held on Thursday added that most of their facilities including Mengo Hospital in Kampala are operating with very old infrastructure.

According to Tumwesigye, all the money that is generated is invested back especially now that they are faced with a double dilemma of having to increase the salaries of health workers to match what the government is providing if they are to retain the specialists they have.

Annually, the government provides such facilities including those run by the Catholic Medical Bureau and the Muslim Medical Bureau a grant of about sh35bn, money that has been increased from about sh18bn previously. But, Tumwesigye says this money is only a drop in the ocean with the high costs they incur in providing services.

Tumwesigye was speaking shortly after the presentation of the UPMB annual performance report showing an increase in the number of patients seeking services from their network of hospitals.

According to Dr Hillary Alima, the Director of Health Systems strengthening and Membership Management, in some areas, the PNFP hospitals are acting as the main hospitals receiving clients rather than those run by the government. Alima attributes this to the quality of care provided.

Alima adds that to ensure increased access and affordability by especially the rural poor, the network works with community health insurance schemes and sixty-three UPMB-run facilities are offering this insurance.

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