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Health ministry defends fees charged by cancer institute

By Moses Mulondo

Added 14th December 2018 01:27 PM

The minister told the house that with effect from November 1, 2018, the Cancer Institute started implementing revised fees charged at an increased rate to help the institution cushion the big funding gaps.

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The minister told the house that with effect from November 1, 2018, the Cancer Institute started implementing revised fees charged at an increased rate to help the institution cushion the big funding gaps.

State minister for health, Sarah Opendi. Photo/File

HEALTH


KAMPALA- The state minister for health, Sarah Opendi has defended the decision by the Uganda Cancer Institute to charge the cancer patients.

The minister told the house that with effect from November 1, 2018, the Cancer Institute started implementing revised fees charged at an increased rate to help the institution cushion the big funding gaps.

The minister explained that the money allocated to the institute is not adequate to enable it execute its mandate yet it has a high burden of patients running to it due to increased cases of cancer in the country.

“In the last three years, the cases of cancer have increased from 53,000 cases in 2015/2016 to 62,000 cases in 2016/2017 and eventually to 75,824 cases in the 2017/2018 financial year. This is the challenge we have. The high cases of cancer has put a big burden on the institute,” she elaborated.

Opendi emphasised the need for Ugandans to be sensitised on their life style to avoid things like alcohol, smoking and failure to exercise, which cause non-communicable diseases like cancer.

The minister was presenting a ministerial statement in response to the concerns, which had been raised by the Kapelebyong County MP, Julius Ochen that the Cancer Institute is charging exorbitant fees, which poor Ugandans cannot afford yet it is public facility that ought to be providing free services to Ugandans.

Ochen said, he had a family that had lost a cancer patient after they had been charged exorbitantly and caused them to even sell off their land to raise the money.

“Given the very high poverty levels in our country, there is need to have this non-tax revenue generation policy by the Cancer Institute reviewed to save the lives of our people,” Ochen said. 

Opendi argued that the reason the Institute has resorted to charging the fees is to enable it generate more money to undertake the services.

“It should be noted that over 80 staff of the Cancer Institute are paid on that non-tax revenue generated from the charges,” the minister explained.

Opendi however, informed the house that on a case by case basis, waivers are done on some very poor patients who accorded the services freely.

Kilak South MP, Gilbert Olanya informed Parliament that he had also just brought 10 cancer patients from his constituency and had been disturbed by the way they had been exorbitantly charged by the Cancer Institute.

Expressing dissatisfaction with the minister’s explanation, Kadaga advised the health ministry to improvise a better system, which will enable the poor people easily get free services and to ensure regional hospitals get facilities for treating cancer so that people from distant places don’t have to always travel to Kampala.

The Kasilo MP, Elijah Okupa reported that he is also helping a cancer patient from his constituency and had witnessed the pathetic state in which the Cancer Institute is.

“Madam Speaker you may need to visit the Cancer Institute. You will find people sleeping on veranda. The conditions in which the patients live in are very poor,” Okupa stated.

 On a related health matter, the Buvuma MP Robert Migadde raised concern that no single health facility in the entire district has a mortuary and that dead bodies are kept in the same wards where patients are treated from.

Aruu County MP, Odonga Otto said something had to be urgently done, arguing it is dehumanising to keep dead bodies in the same wards with the patients.

The minister assured Parliament that in the health facilities, they plan to construct, they would ensure mortuaries and other necessary facilities are included.

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