Dokolo — Dokolo District authorities are charging residents money to use the government ambulance to transport their sick relatives to Dokolo Health Centre IV.
Ms Beatrice Adongo, 34, a resident of Atabu Parish in Bata Sub-county, says she recently paid Shs80,000 to transport her expectant daughter to the health centre IV in Dokolo Town Council.
“The driver determines the amount of money you are supposed to pay before he comes to help you out and when you don’t have the money, you can’t access the ambulance,” she says.
However, the in-charge of Agwata Health Centre III, Mr Roy Opio, says they always experience a big challenge with referral cases and always charge money for fuelling the vehicle.
He explains that pregnant mothers seeking to use the ambulance are charged Shs20,000 when referred from Agwata health facility to Dokolo Health Centre IV, about 15kms away.
Data from Agwata Health Centre III indicates that at least 50 expectant mothers visit the facility monthly.
The district vice chairperson, Mr Nam Francis Ogwal, says the issue of charging patients to utilise the ambulance was brought to the attention of the district council and that it is being handled.
“We are considering putting a flat rate of not more than Shs30,000 for patients to access the ambulance,” he says.
Mr Eugine Odongo, the district health educator, says the district has only two ambulances.
“We have low budget allocation for the health department but the district has been informed that Ministry of Health is considering centralising the management of ambulances countrywide,” he says.
Mr Moses Opio, a paralegal with the Uganda National Health Consumers organisation (UNHCO), says charging patients to access government ambulances deprives them their right to access quality health services. “The ambulance driver should not decide on the charges or charge patients to access the ambulance. He is a paid government worker and he is serving the taxpayers of this country,” Mr Opio says.
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Publish date : 2019-04-12 10:17:55