CEHURD invites applications from eligible firms for prequalification to provide a variety of goods and non consultancy services under the categories in the Appendix II of the attached details in the download section , for the period 2021/ 2024.
Applications and accompanying requirements must be submitted by email only. Deadline for submission of applications: Tuesday 27th July, 2021.
Before I got the COVID test (yes, that irritating nasal swab), I was really fine but as soon as our Human Resources Manager asked me to get a COVID test, fear overtook me, not because I was afraid of testing positive but because I had had a bad experience the last time I tested.
As soon as the test was finalised, my fears unfolded, I got a running nose and a very painful headache (the kind that hurts just above your eye).
On my way back from buying a handkerchief a friend called, saying she wasn’t fine and that she needed someone to talk to. When I left office I went straight to her place in Kisaasi and spent the night with her as we talked.
That Saturday morning at around 12pm, I received a call from the Human Resources Manager
HR: Hello Mariana, how are you?
Me : I’m fine, how are you?
HR : Munange the test came back positive.
Me : Thank you. Have a great weekend.
HR : If you need any help don’t hesitate to call me.
At that moment my friend and l were still in bed and I told her my result. Her response wasn’t what I expected because of the stigma that comes with having a positive Covid results. She instead requested me to stay at her place,saying she would look after me.
I later called my mum, broke the news and told her where I would be spending the rest of my week. I also called my Manager to inform him about the results and that I wouldn’t be able to go to the office. I can only imagine how he felt given the fact that my seat is next to his.
This COVID thing hits different. After being home for more than three weeks, treating an illness that almost got me stuck to a wheelchair, my anxiety was off the roof.
The first seven days were the pits with chest pain, a constant headache, terrible flu and a burning sensation in my throat…Ugh! I did some steaming with plain water in a bucket at least twice a day and that went along with some concoctions which included lemon, ginger, garlic and raw pepper. I still wonder why I was adding pepper to the mix because it only fuelled the burning sensation and made my nose run even more.
On top of the random fevers, running nose and headaches, I lost my sense of taste and smell. For some time, I felt like a non-living thing! I could see food but I could not taste or smell it and the top tier was that I was always hungry.
In my mind I knew things had gone bad and that was the worst feeling I have ever had. I later returned to my place and was by myself with no one to talk to apart from following / engaging in online conversations. It felt really terrible and sometimes I would find myself crying hysterically. The thought of my lungs failing me on one random morning and ending up on a life support machine made my stomach hurt, given the gaps in Uganda’s health care system. I was extremely worried with thoughts of ‘’what if I don’t make it?’’, ‘’what if I get to hospital and it’s crowded without a bed for me?’’ as tears rolled down my cheeks.
Meanwhile, I took COVID tests hoping for negative results, looking forward to days free from the steaming which had even bruised my fingers.
The results still came back positive. Whenever the HR Manager gave me the results, I could hear the worry in her voice.To allay her worries, I always told her I would be fine. During the call she advised that I go get a second opinion and later buy more vitamins (vitamin D3, E, C) and Zinc to boost my immunity.
I went for another test at Norvik Hospital and of course paid Shs 200,000 but again the result came back positive. To say that I felt terrible when the doctor broke the news is an understatement.
While I was struggling with all the other symptoms that came with COVID, Azithromycin gave me an extremely painful stomach ache and the only consolation I had was that it was a three days’ dose, so I hung in there.
After seven days of taking vitamins, I regained my taste buds but couldn’t smell a thing. I went for another test. At this moment, I was desperate for a negative result! This time I waited for the results with a little bit of excitement because I was sure they would be in my favour. But alas! they still came back positive. At this point I wondered what I was not doing right.
In all this, my father never got tired of calling and checking no my progress. When my mother called and I told her the same results, she decided to send me fruits everyday, saying “Kilabika wetaga bibala” (it seems you need fruits). She sent the fruits till I got a negative result, seven days later.
The truth is COVID treats everyone differently, some people don’t even notice that they have it (asymptotic), others battle it silently like I did and others get unto life support but we can all get through this.
My prayer is that we all follow the Ministry of Health guidelines and stay safe. Let us not wait for the people we know to drop dead before we take COVID seriously. If you get it, stay positive and believe you can beat it no matter how frustrating it feels in the moment.
Ms Kayaga is a Programme Officer in the Community Empowerment Programme.
Regulate the rates hospitals are charging for management and treatment of COVID-19
KAMPALA. Center for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) and Mr. Mulumba, Moses, a concerned public spirited litigant ,have filed a case against the Government of Uganda, the Minister of Health and the Medical and Dental Practitioners Council for failure to regulate the exorbitant fees for the management and treatment of COVID-19 patients in health facilities.
In this case filed in the High Court, we call upon the Honourable Court to weigh in and compel the respondents (the Minister of Health and the Medical and Dental Practitioners Council and Attorney General)to intervene and regulate chargeable rates for management and treatment of COVID-19 patients, to save the lives of Ugandans who are undoubtedly continuing to lose lives at the quest for profits by the private actors.
Over the past months, there have been several reports of families and individuals struggling to cover the costs related to treatment and management of COVID-19. The rates charged by the hospitals are clearly exorbitant in nature and largely unbearable to vulnerable Ugandans seeking the COVID 19 treatment in hospitals amidst the pandemic and tough economic times.
We are mindful that the government is the primary provider for health as a social good. In cases when the government cannot make this provision, then it bares the obligation to regulate the private providers. Since Uganda recorded its first case of COVID-19, the government through the Minister of Health has issued several Statutory Instruments to regulate the national response to the pandemic. We are however surprised that no instrument has been issued to regulate theprivate sector as it supports the national response to COVID-19. This to us, is a huge omission which the government through the Minister of Health must urgently address.
‘It is just unconceivable that the government would fail to ensure a functional public health system and also negate its primary duty of regulating costs charged by the private sector providing health services amidst a pandemic. The government cannot regulate everything else on COVID-19 except treatment costs. We except the Minister of Health to use her powers in the law to protect Ugandans from the unreasonable costs charged by the private sector in the COVID-19 treatment and management. It is just unacceptable that some actors can have this crisis as a profiteering moment’ Mulumba, Moses one of the applicants in the case, and also CEHURD’s Executive Director.
A recent survey of media reports reveals that a day in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at a private hospital in Kampala will cost a COVID-19 patient between Shs2 million to Shs10 million per day depending on the facility. A patient with moderate symptoms is likely to pay between Shs1.5 million and Shs5 million daily, depending on where they go. Considering that treatment can go on for weeks, the final bill comes down to an amount too exorbitant to bear.
As the effects of COVID-19 continue to ravage the country, more people are going to require treatment and management of the virus .Since there is no regulatory framework to rein in private hospitals these high changes will continue
The applicants in the case therefore ask Court to compel ;The Attorney General, the Medical and Dental Practitioners Council, and Minister of Health Hon. Dr Jane Ruth Aceng Ocero intervene and regulate medical fees chargeable by hospitals in the treatment and management of persons suffering from COVID-19, as is their statutory obligation.
In August 2019, a picture of a patient with oxygen masks and a nasal cannula being wheeled into an Equity Bank branch in Kampala to withdraw money for his hospital bills went viral. This picture evoked a public outcry and anger about the lack of integrity in our health care systems and the ruthlessness of private hospitals to get paid with claims albeit unsubstantiated, purporting that a certain private hospital where the patient was receiving treatment had wheeled him to the bank to access funds prior to medical treatment.
After the spike in Covid-19 cases, there have been numerous stories of patients paying through the nose with some having to pledge some form of security including land titles to obtain specialised treatment. This has caused families to take out loans or to sell family and personal assets to raise money to meet the hospital bills. Others have had to organise mini fundraising drives on social media platforms to raise money to pay off the bill.
The bills to say the least are obscenely high and one such bill from a private facility in suburban Kampala was upwards of UGX 120 million for 10 days in ICU. Unfortunately, the patient died and when the family posted this on social media platforms to raise cash to offset the bill, the hospital administration came out to rebut the “exaggerated” cost claiming that the true bill was only “UGX 70 million” after public outcry that private hospitals were taking advantage of the pandemic to make a killing.
In a country where the per capita income is roughly UGX2.7 million, it means that the cost of treating a critically-ill Covid-19 patient is beyond the affordability of most households. UGX 70 million over a 10-day period means on average UGX 7 million daily is needed.
There is a need for the Ministry of Health to regulate these prices to protect the public from unethical business practices. Although the 1995 Constitution doesn’t have a specific provision for the right to health,our courts have unequivocally pronounced themselves on the justiciability of the right to health as a social and economic right.
The Center for Health, Human Rights, and Development, (CEHURD) yesterday petitioned court to compel the Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Health and the Medical and Dental practitioners council to reign in healthprenuers and regulate the prices charged for the management and treatment of Covid-19 patients. Human rights go beyond political rights and it’s about time social and economic rights are given the same attention as political rights.
Despite absence of an express provision in the 1995 Constitution on the right to health, the same is implied from other constitutional clauses. For example the National objectives and directive principles of state policies, the articles on the right to life, human dignity and women rights among others.
The absence of an express Constitutional provision is not unique to Uganda but also in many other countries’ constitutions. It has therefore always fallen on courts to infer the right to health as a fundamental right.
In the indian case of Bandhua Mukti Morcha v. Union of India & Ors. (1997) 10 SCC 549 the Supreme Court inferred the right to health from Article 21 of the Indian Constitution which guarantees the right to life.
Similarly in the state of Punjab and Ors. v. Mohinder Singh Chawala CIVIL APPEAL NOS.16980-81 OF 1996 , court reaffirmed that the right to health is fundamental to the right to life and should be put on record that the Government has a constitutional obligation to provide health services to the people.
In our context credit goes to CEHURD for their endless efforts to hold the Ugandan Government accountable for the health needs of its citizens.
1. The right to health should be declared a fundamental right in the Constitution. That means the bill of rights needs to be amended.
2. As legal practitioners, enforcement and protection of these rights is only attained in Courts of law. We should use not this opportunity not only as a tool to solve a single fact pattern but as a tool with a potential to rethink our priorities, cause opinion shifts and improve the health conditions of our people.
You will agree with me that a few lawyers interest themselves in such areas of practice but now with Covid-19, all commercial and land transactions cannot be practiced instead when we become sick and get hospitalised in a fake facility with exorbitant bills which one cannot challenge whilst in there. This should be a wakeup call to all of us to rethink and redirect our practice.
Mr Katantazi is a lawyer with Senkumba & Company Advocates.