A proposal by government to have citizens pay for services at the new Mulago specialised unit can only be welcomed by those whose empathy has completely been eroded.
On Wednesday, while appearing before Parliament’s Health Committee, State minister for Health in charge of General Duties Sarah Opendi said the newly refurbished Mulago hospital and soon-to-be opened will not be for free.
Now this proposal, backed by Mulago hospital executive director Dr Byarugaba Baterana, will narrow the options of Uganda’s sick, poor majority and offer state-of-the-art medical care to the opulent, elitist minority.
Dr Byarugaba, like the minister, argues that once the moneyed top echelons of society use the facility at a fee, proceeds will trickle down to cater for deficiencies in the lower grade all-free facilities.
Such was the promise to accommodate private interests in the education sector, saying licence fees will run government schools by way of funding.
However, every other year that passes by brings further evidence that the rich, who can afford these services, better their children’s future, leaving the poor in an eternal waiting room, waiting to cash on a blank cheque of the so-called redistribution of resources.
This is a dangerous experiment that, as a nation, we should rather never have because diseases that require such specialised attention afflict not just the poor or the rich, but human beings.
And if you are good at random games, picking 10 random patients from any part of this country, the majority will definitely be the poor, who won’t afford the platinum, gold, silver or even the diamond services suggested by Dr Byarugaba.
They can instead afford death, which they will meet painfully as the rich, whose pocket are deep, walk to an originally public facility, coming out healthier. Even in the US, the former Obamacare, which was a subsided policy for low-income families, was meant to make medical care affordable to all Americans. They are richer wealthier but they thought about the poor.
Instead, government here should interest itself in coming up with a realistic medical insurance cover for all citizens who at a moment of physical pain should be comforted by the fact that a grateful nation is at hand to share the pain, to empathise.