Indians in Uganda under their umbrella Indian Association of Uganda (IAU), have booked off thirty rooms at Royal Fort Hotel in Bugolobi in which they are operating a COVID-19 treatment center, in a move they describe as a gesture of corporate social responsibility to Ugandans.
Ironically however, Muhammed Vaheed, the General Secretary of the Association told Uganda Radio Network (URN) that patients can only pay a sum of Shs 250,000 per day and make an upfront deposit of a million shillings before they are admitted in the center.
Vaheed said they are even making it bigger that they are currently in discussions with other hotels in the Kampala metropolitan areas of Entebbe and Mukono such that they can be able to provide people with such perks as full time attention by health workers and enrolling someone on oxygen therapy whenever need arises.
This however contravenes guidelines by the Ministry of Health to have people with mild infections not only kept at home but enrolled on minimal medication which can be accessed cheaply over the counter since majority recover without requiring a lot of drugs.
We put this to Dr. Joseph Okware, the Director Health Services in MOH in a interview on Wednesday who said operators of these centers are doing it illegally and taking advantage of the COVID-19 stress of the health system to dupe unsuspecting individuals.
Coming up at the time when a number of private health facilities have been put on the spot over exorbitant charges, Dr. Okware says they have planned a meeting today (Thursday) at the Prime Minister’s Office where resolutions will be made regarding the thievery in private medical facilities. He says they will penalize the culprits and can be made to refund this money.
He says they started with conducting investigations and the Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners Council has been tasked to do an audit on the facilities that have been pointed out in the outcry especially on social media. Some of the hospitals on the spot are International Hospital Kampala and TMR International Hospital that has been criticized of withholding a body of a New vision staff who succumbed to the viral respiratory disease over a bill of Shs 76 million.
However, though he has nothing to show for it, Vaheed says they sought and got approvals from the Ministry of Health to put up treatment centers in hotels to aid quick referral when a patient becomes critical.