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Ministry of Health Directed to Resolve Discrepancies in CT-Scan Fees at Government Hospitals

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The Committee on Government Assurances and Implementation has urged the Ministry of Health to address conflicting stances regarding the user fees for Computed Tomography (CT) scan services in government hospitals. During a recent oversight visit aimed at assessing the implementation of government assurances in the Eastern region’s health sector, Members of Parliament noted a discord within the Ministry of Health concerning the fees charged for CT-scan services.

At Mbale Regional Referral Hospital, during the oversight visit on Friday, 27 October 2023, the hospital director, Stephen Obbo, informed the MPs that the hospital charges Shs150,000 for CT-scan services. This fee is utilized for procuring consumables, equipment repairs, and maintenance to ensure the sustainability of the CT-scan facilities.

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However, the MPs highlighted a contradiction between the hospital’s fee and the statement made by the Minister of State for Health (General Duties), Hon Anifa Kawooya. The Minister had asserted that CT-scan services should be provided free of charge, emphasizing that Ugandans pay taxes that should cover such services, comparing them to ferries on water bodies. Additionally, the Committee Chairperson, Hon. Betty Nambooze, suggested that Parliament could allocate funds for maintaining such equipment if necessary.

The surprise revelation occurred when the hospital director presented a letter dated 02 June 2023 from the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, instructing hospitals to charge for CT-scan services, contradicting the Minister’s declaration of free services.

Committee Chairperson Hon. Betty Nambooze expressed concern over the Ministry’s conflicting directives, describing it as political deception. She emphasized the need for the Ministry to revise its position and bring about harmony regarding the fees for CT-scan services in government hospitals.

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Highlighting the lack of a standard user fee for CT-scan services across government hospitals, Hon. Robert Ssekitoleeko noted the potential for abuse due to the absence of consistency in pricing. He pointed out the varied charges in different hospitals, such as Shs120,000 in Jinja and Shs150,000 in Mbale, highlighting the lack of uniformity.

Adding to the inconsistency, Nambooze mentioned that Mukono charges Shs50,000 for CT-scan services while the same services are provided free of charge in Mbarara. The discrepancy in fees across various hospitals could lead to a shutdown of CT-scan services if the Ministry fails to harmonize its fee structure.

The Members of Parliament have pledged to bring this matter to the forefront in the next parliamentary session, considering it as a crucial national concern that demands immediate attention and resolution.

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