By Nicholas Wassajja
A section of MPs and civil society organizations want parliament to speed up legislation on the proposed Health Rights and Responsibilities Bill 2015 that seeks to promote emancipation of patients whose rights have been violated by practitioners.
Spearheaded by Kigulu South MP Milton Muwuma and Uganda health consumers’ organisation (UNHCO), they said that they want it passed into law before going into the 2016 general elections because it addresses welfare for both patients and health workers which is a pertinent issue in taking voting decisions.
Speaking during a consultative meeting on the bill, Muwuma said that the time has come for authorities to prioritize the health sector if the country is to leap forward in terms of development.
“It’s unfortunate that the executive and parliament are challenged with prioritizing that’s why health is number six in the 2015/16 financial year but we need to move quick on the bill because development will be stunted without a healthy population,” Muwuma said.
Major highlights of the bill that was drafted early this year are banning of patients’ involvement in clinical trials without consent, compelling of health workers to give enough information appropriate to patients’ needs to enable them make informed decisions and granting health care to patients unconditionally during emergencies in both private and government facilities.
The Bill also wants to ensure ethical treatment and empowerment of patients to participate in the health process, enhance provider-receiver relationship and provide for the responsibilities of patients to follow the plan of care and be accountable for the outcome if they refuse or fail to properly follow instructions.
Muwuma expressed concern that the ministry of finance is dragging to give the certificate of financial implication hence they cannot move any further on the legislation.
He said, “We expected Bahati today perhaps he would have explained why the certificate is taking long because am also aware that even the speaker has written to them asking about the same.”
Efforts to get a comment from the state minister of finance David Bahati were futile as his known telephone numbers were off by press time.
Moyo district woman MP Anne Auru said that since members have the will to have the bill passed into law it should be tabled as soon as possible before the house gets busier than it is now.
“When you talk to most MPs you will realize that the good will to have the law is there but we are being dragged. However, we are planning to question the responsible ministers on what is delaying us as a means of awakening the debate other wise beyond next month might be very tricky yet the bill is so important,” she noted.
“we don’t have to fear using legislative approaches, it means Uganda is on course to realizing universal health coverage, we talk of minimum healthcare package, where we have pledged policies, plans and laws that we can support public health within our financial limits,” said Bunyole west MP Jacob Wangolo.
The executive director UNHCO Robina Kaitiritimba who decried the level of ignorance among patients and service providers on health rights said that the bill is timely and she hopes the legislators act fast to pass it into law.
She said that the bill which will hold liable criminal cases in the practise is out to equally promote the welfare of the health workers which is a stride in improving the sector.
Prof George Kirya, the chairperson of the Advocates for Professionalism and Quality in Health called for quick legislation on the bill arguing that if enacted into law, this will push government to generate conditions that cover the entire health sector in which everyone must be healthy and with easy access to facilities.
According to the world health organisation, there is growing international consensus that all patients have a fundamental right to privacy, to consent to or refuse treatment and to be informed about relevant risks to them in medical procedures.
Parliament asked to speed up bill on patients’ rights