The capacity of Ugandans to demand for their health rights is still limited due to inadequate awareness resulting from limited availability of the requisite information which translates into poor health indices. Starting January 2016, CEHURD in collaboration with PATH under the Access to Better Health (ABH) project embarked on a series of activities aimed at creating awareness among Ugandans in regards to their right to health. These rights are stated in a document that is known as the Patients’ Charter.
The Patients Charter is a result of joint effort by Ministry of Health in partnership with Civil Society Organizations led by the Uganda National Health Consumers Organization (UNHCO). The objective of this charter is to empower health consumers to demand high quality health care, to promote the rights of patients and to improve the quality of life of all Ugandans and finally eradicate poverty nationwide. This charter provides a basis for a legal and regulatory framework in health that contributes to improved capacity for quality health care.
CEHURD embarked on a series of radio and television talk shows discussing various articles under this charter. Some of these included the patients’ right to redress, the right to access to information, the right to a healthy and safe environment and the right to consent, among others. These patients’ rights were discussed on a number of stations like Radio One, Radio Simba, Radio Suubi, Akaboozi Radio, NTV, Bukedde TV, and CBS Radio among others; on both English and Luganda programs.
During these shows,we realized that majority of Ugandans were not aware of this document called the Patients Charter that defines the rights and responsibilities of patients in Uganda,they were not aware that health service delivery is more than physical treament and that it also relates to other determinants of the right to health. Furthermore,citizens are not aware that they have a right to lodge a complaint of any health rights violation to the Uganda Human Rights Commission, Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners Coucil or the courts of law for a redress.
On the bright side, we managed to reach a large audience across the country and helped in educating and sensitizing them in their rights as patients. These shows will go on for the next couple of months during which CEHURD will continue in its mission to advance health rights for vulnerable communites and the Ugandan society at large.