Ngora government hospitals charge pregnant women exorbitant fees for childbirth

Health workers attached to different health centers in Ngora district are on hand to charge pregnant women seeking caesarean section and surgery services exorbitant sums contrary to government policy.

According to our independent research in health facilities in Ngora, including Ngora IV Health Center, Ngora Maternity Unit and other health centers, health workers continue to demand money from patients .

Pregnant women must pay Shs. 150,000 for caesarean section and a minimum of Shs. 100,000 for other costs.

The other charge is refueling the ambulance in the event of a referral.

Janet Loy Titin, one of the patient attendants at Ngora Health Center IV who was allegedly detained by the facility for three weeks for failing to pay her bill, said she was charged 364,100 Ugandan shillings.

“I asked the authorities to release my patient and remained in detention for three weeks while the family searched for money,” Titin said.

She said that due to the poverty situation on her farm, she could not raise the funds for the operation when it was needed, but she pleaded with the health workers caring for her patient.

“The establishment is still asking me for Shs 100,000 after a supporter helped me clear Shs 264,100,” she added.

Sister Juliet Achom, head of the maternity ward at the Ngora IV health center, acknowledged that the facility charges pregnant women money to access cesarean section.

She attributed the burden on patients to the government’s limited delivery of equipment.

Mike Odongo, the Ngora district LCV chairman, said they have always repeatedly challenged health workers to refrain from charging money to patients.

But he was quick to say that, being an IV health center, some government services are not sent, forcing health workers to ask patients to pay for services that are not readily available.

“As a district, we will investigate such allegations but unfortunately no one is willing to give us the right information to identify the wrongdoers,” he said.

He added that the issues raised will be investigated and anyone involved will be subject to disciplinary action.

Stella Apolot Isodo, Ngora District MP, said the challenges in the health sector are nationwide and called on the government to increase funding for the health sector.

She also called on the government to transform the Ngora IV health center into a district hospital so that most services can be provided on time.

Robert Olupot, a boda boda rider in Ngora town, called for sensitizing patients to demand services and reporting cases of corruption.

Uganda’s policy is to ensure that all surgical care is provided free of charge to patients in Ugandan public hospitals.

However, frequent stock-outs and broken equipment force patients to pay for much of their care out of pocket.

More than 45.16% of the health establishments belong to the State, 42% are private for profit and the rest are private for profit.

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