KAMPALA __ The Deputy Speaker of Parliament Thomas Tayebwa has instructed the management of Uganda Cancer Institute to investigate reports that the Institute staff were sending patients to buy medicines from private pharmacies.
Tayebwa said this while on a guided tour at Uganda Cancer Institute on Tuesday, November 29, 2022.
This follows claims that the Cancer Institute, a Government facility has been frequently sending patients and caretakers to private facilities to buy specialized cancer medicines yet Government provides funding for free medication.
“We have received very many complaints from patients here who say you send them out to buy very expensive medicines yet I have been told that the medicines are free and that we have all of them,” Said DeputySpeaker, Tayebwa.
He then directed the Uganda Cancer Institute management to investigate the claims and punish all perpetrators involved in extortion syndicates at the hospital.
“Management should make sure that all those involved in such acts be broutght to book. I have confirmed today that government has provided all the funding necessary to buy the medicines for the fight against cancer and it should be freely accessible for the patients who come here,” he asserted.
Tayebwa also appealed to Government to regulate some of the medicines in the country through the National Drug Authority-NDA citing possible counterfeit dealings.
During the tour at the Institute, the deputy speaker lauded the UCI management for the impressive ongoing works at the facility and noted that Parliament would appropriate funding accordingly to address the gaps raised by officials.
Prof William Bazeyo, the UCI board chairperson admitted that money is indeed being charged from patients but only at the VIP wing.
“We have a VIP section where we charge a minimum fee but the choice of either going for VIP or general Wing is at the patient’s discretion,” said Prof. Bazeyo adding that, “for every patient that comes to the institute for all their consultations, laboratory tests, X-rays, chemotherapy or drugs are attended to free of charge.”
“Ugandans should know that we have free services. At this cancer institute, we receive patients from all over the country and those who are saying that they are charged, should come out and provide evidence for us to hold those involved accountable for their dubious acts, hiding under social media may not help us amicably handle their complaints. “
The hospital registers close to 4000 patients every year. Patients at compete for space with some sleeping in corridors and outside while others share wards despite their sex.
Cancer patients face various challenges due to poor social-economic status, inefficiencies in the healthcare system and extortions from health workers. These challenges cause enormous delays in initiation and continuation of cancer treatment.
According to the Journal Of Cancer Policy 2021, 35 % of the patients delayed initiating cancer treatment and 41 % missed medical appointments along their care journey. Delayed and missed appointments were mainly due to lack of money for cancer medicines, transportation and accommodation.