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Proposed National health insurance scheme draws mixed reactions in Mbale

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT  | The proposed National Health Insurance scheme has generated mixed from members of the public in Mbale.

The National Health Insurance Scheme Bill 2019 has an ultimate goal of introducing Universal health care to improve health outcomes and expand access to essential health care services for all people in need.

If passed, the Health Insurance scheme will pool resources where the rich and the healthy will subsidize the treatment for the poor, young and elderly.

On Wednesday, members of the public in Mbale district got a chance to comment on the scheme in a debate jointly organised by National Democratic Institute and Uganda Radio Network at Busitema University, Mbale campus.

Rogers Wandulu, one of the participants from Sironko district, said there is need for government to first improve the health sector before thinking about introducing Health Insurance scheme.

He explained that Uganda’s health sector is still lagging behind, adding that many Ugandans are too poor to raise the money needed for the scheme.

Julius Nteziyazemye, a lecturer at Busitema University wondered who will manage the health insurance scheme funds, saying there is need for government to first tackle corruption to restore public trust in the proposed scheme.

Dr. Saidat Nakito, the Dean faculty of Law at Islamic University in Uganda, said National Health Insurance Scheme Bill 2019 is unfair and has disparities, arguing that many people especially those informal sector will avoid making contributions.

Swaibu Okoth, another participant said if the scheme is to work, government ought to strengthen institutions and improve health service delivery in the country.

Dr. Ian Clark, one of the panelists during the debate, said the policy is intended to introduce result based financing in the health sector.

Alice Alaso, the Deputy National Coordinator Alliance for National Transformation –ANC party, said the scheme is bound to fail with because of corruption officials in government.

She wondered the level of preparedness in government for the launch of the National Health Insurance Scheme.

Alaso also noted that the issue of the rich subsidizing the treatment of the poor isn’t realistic because the rich in Uganda are known for evading taxes.

However, Dr. Benon Wenume, the Head of Department Community and Public Health – Faculty of Health sciences Busitema University Mbale Campus, said Ugandans should stop saying they are poor to start certain things.

He said there is need to start on the scheme and keep improving amidst the challenges that may arise.

Dr. Ahmed Bumba, the Director Mbale Regional Blood Bank, said the health insurance policy is good and timely but there is need for ensuring public trust and accountability.

Health insurance services have been proposed as one of the strategies to protect the insured client from out-of-pocket payments that continue to hinder millions of people from accessing healthcare services.

Out-of-pocket payments not only hinder access to healthcare but also cause financial catastrophe to some families and individuals as they strive to access the much needed healthcare.

Despite the potential benefits and the availability of health insurance services in Uganda, the uptake of the services is still limited, particularly in the informal sector that compromises the biggest part of the population.

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