Half of Ugandans first seek medical attention from gov’t facilities- Report

Half of Ugandan citizens first turn to government health facilities when they are sick or injured, findings of a national survey dubbed Health Check have revealed.

The study that was conducted by Twaweza focused on the perception of citizens about health services in the country. Twaweza is a national mobile phone survey panel that amplifies voices of citizens through research on issues of concern.

According to the survey, five out of ten citizens went first to a government health facility the last time they had a household member suffer illness or injury. On the contrary three out of ten went to private or facilities owned by non-governmental organizations.

However, much as this is the first resort, citizens met challenges to acquire the sought for services, one of them being the distance to the facility. The average time taken to reach a health facility, according to the findings is 74 minutes.

Marie Nanyanzi, the Sauti Wanainchi lead researcher, noted that the journey to a government facility sums up to about three hours including time for the journey to and from the facility and that spent there.

According to the World Health Organisation, the distance to a hospital within a distance of 5km should take one hour.   Besides, the doctor patient burden is still wanting. The study shows that only 1 out of 4 patients are attended to within 30 minutes contrary to private health facilities where two out of three patients get attention.

The World Health Organisation recommends a doctor, nurse patient ratio of 1: 1000 patients.   However, the patient to doctor ratio in Uganda stands at 40,000 people. Worse still, a number of patients don’t get medicine after prescription.   Only one out of three patients at government facilities receives medicine, according to the findings.

Aggrey Sanya, the General Secretary Uganda Medical Workers Union, notes that although there is improvement, the National Health Policy should be revised to allow health centers take charge of purchasing their health supplies.
Currently, health

receive supplies from the National Medical Stores-NMS.  Sanya notes that drug stock outs at government health facilities force medical workers to send away patients with only prescriptions.

This is contrary to the Health Ministry mission, which seeks to provide the highest possible level of health services to all people in the country through delivery of promotive, preventive, curative, palliative and rehabilitative health services at all levels.

The other challenge according to the study is the limited number of beds in government health facilities. 7 percent of admitted patients at these facilities slept either on a mattress or on the floor this is in contrast with private health facilities where 2% experience the short fall.