For very long many Ugandans especially those in the “middle class” have deluded themselves that they can afford health care and that healthcare especially critical and special care is affordable.
Most of them walk around with insurance cards whose actual value and accessibility to healthcare services is limited to essential care like basic delivery, malaria and simple respiratory tract infection treatment, ‘typhoid’ and maybe the occasional ‘ROH hangover’ that gets you infused with dextrose and B.Complex vitamins.
They have been hints that have previously pointed to the fact that critical care may be beyond our reach as the so called middle class: we have seen this in orthopedic and brain surgery, cancer treatment, cardiac treatment/surgery, preterm baby care and prolonged hospitalization…..
Instead of advocating that the government provides these essential and life savings healthcare services; we as the major taxpayers and contributors chose to look the other way and left the fight to the venerable and a few health care advocates, some of whom we have branded “idiots” when they insisted that we invest in social services (health and education amongst others).
Occasionally when we were caught between a rock and hard place when our close relatives, spouses, siblings or kids had developed any of these conditions we opted to organize car wash fund raisers, bribed or used influence peddling to siphon off money from the consolidated government fund to fly out for treatment most of which was as trivial as knee arthroscopy or really non prognostic influencing as terminal or palliative care.
A good number of us got into these private hospitals at the expense of the taxpayer at a cost we could not personally afford turning them into the bona fide national referral hospitals…..we saw no wrong in this but took it as a privilege and clear class above the rest of our fellow citizens (oh!! 🙌 Nakasero, IHK, Kololo…)
Now that the chicken have come home to roost via the Covid epidemic where treatment is very expensive and we can’t fly out, we have suddenly found out we are venerable as the most vulnerable peasant in Kyanamukaaka or kyirameenvu who sells all his chicken, goats and piece of land only for his wife to die of sepsis in a government hospital.
In our case our land titles, Homes, secondhand 4WD vehicles are now being pledged at private hospital cashier tills long after our merger savings have been cleaned out in days. Even those who thought had feathered their nests to satisfaction are not only being stripped naked of their hard earned wealth (also occasionally ill gotten) but are dying at rates previously only experienced by the poor venerable moreover in sand castles that are almost merely posturing but not providing the actual HDU or ICU levels of care ! ( Professor Kanyehamba once talked about this after experiencing care in one such private facility).
The current situation will therefore probably be one of the best lesson for us as responsible and conscious citizens to learn that quality and essential healthcare services are a public good and that we should all strive to have a public health service that works for all of us, all the time and for all illnesses instead of whining about costs of care which even the people who are currently providing these services to you (as health care workers) cannot afford them themselves!
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