Road accidents claim an average of 3,500 lives in Uganda annually
One out of 20 citizens have experienced an accident or injury in the past six months and more than half (53%) of the cases involve boda-bodas, a new survey shows.
The survey, conducted by Twaweza, an advocacy organisation, shows that road safety is a health issue that represents a major burden on the health sector and citizen’s lives.
At least 1,913 respondents were interviewed countrywide during the October 2018 Sauti za Wananchi survey titled Health Check: Ugandans’ experiences and opinions on health services.
The deputy Police spokesperson, Polly Namaye blamed the high rate of road accidents on careless and reckless driving, speeding and overloading.
Considering that most accidents are a result of human activity, Namaye said addressing the problem requires a broader shift in public attitude and discipline on the road.
She noted that in spite of repeated road safety campaigns by Police and other agencies, the rate of accidents has reduced by only a slight margin.
Road accidents claim an average of 3,500 lives in Uganda annually. From 2015 to 2017, over 9,500 people died in road accidents in Uganda, according to estimates by the transport ministry.
On average, Uganda loses 10 people every day in road traffic crashes, a 2018 UN road safety report on Uganda shows, costing the country $1.2 billion (about sh.4.4 trillion) annually.
“The proportion of accidents attributable to road traffic, boda-bodas, in particular, constitutes a potential public health crisis,” said Marie Nanyanzi, the Sauti za Wananchi officer at Twaweza.
The high rate of accidents, she said, give a reason for the increase in health budgets, staff, and equipment, as well as the urgent need to roll out the national health insurance scheme.
“Insurance provides a means for even poor Ugandans to offset health costs, have a choice in health services and alleviate pressure on government facilities,” Nanyanzi stated.
The survey shows that only one out of 50 Ugandans has health insurance, slightly higher among residents of urban areas (4%) compared to rural areas (1%).
Cabinet endorsed a national health insurance scheme in which 4% is deducted from the monthly salary of employees above the age of 18 for health insurance, while the employer pays 1%.
Retired public servants will also have 1% of their monthly pension as a contribution towards the scheme while those in the informal sector will pay an average of sh100,000 annually.
The scheme seeks to reduce the high out-of-pocket expenditure. About 41% of Uganda’s health expenditure comes from individuals, 42% from donors and 15% from government.
The new survey hints at challenges of access to health services with key complaints about long queues, indifferent staff, and patients being given prescription but not medicine.
The average journey time when visiting a health facility is 74 minutes but this rises to 84 minutes in rural areas and falls to 47 minutes in urban areas, the survey shows.