Pay as “you earn”: Patients say Katakwi hospital workers demand for money before work

Katakwi General Hospital's workers are extorting money from patients according to residents. Courtesy photo.

Katakwi – While government health facilities are supposed to render medical services to Ugandan citizenry at “no cost”, that is not the case in Katakwi general hospital.

Health workers at the facility are being accused of soliciting bribes from patients who go for medical treatment.

The residents raised this during the 5th Anti-Corruption Caravan organized by Action Aid and the office of Inspector General of Government (IGG).

The Anti-corruption caravan was held in the Teso sub-region’s districts of  Bukedea, Soroti,  Serere, Kumi and Katakwi.

The caravan, themed: “Citizen’s Action against Corruption”, focused on mobilizing citizens for collective anti-corruption action by raising public awareness of the dangers of corruption to service delivery.

Locals said that they are forced to pay money without a receipt before receiving any services.

Christine Akello from Toroma sub-county noted that mostly health workers charge patients who are to be put on drip, scanning machine and operation.

She claimed that they are charged from shilling 5000 and above by the medical workers before attending to them.

John Ikait, one of the concerned residents from Apapai village in Kapujan sub-county said that he recently rushed his sister to the facility but was told to first pay fifty thousand shillings before being attended to.

Ikait added that the patient was neglected until he paid the money without being given a receipt.

According to him, because of the neglect and monetary demand from the medical workers, his sister died.

He asked government to intervene and stop the vice of extortion among health workers in the public hospital.

Israel Odongo, a concerned resident of Aligoi village in Okore sub-county revealed that he recently visited the hospital seriously sick at midnight, but was told by one of the health workers to first pay.

“I was told I could not get any medical services since i had arrived at midnight unless,” he said at the caravan.

James Orone – another whistle-blower from Ogongoja said that the habit of health workers at Katakwi General Hospital in soliciting bribes from patients and their attendants is an order of the day.

He explained that many residents have lost hope in the government health facility and that many have resorted to private clinics.

The Katakwi district vice chairperson, Mary Gorrety Auma affirmed that the district leadership has reliable information pinning health workers at the facility for extorting money from patients before providing services of drip, scanning machine, accessing beds and mortuary.

According to Auma, it is a pity that the medical workers are extorting money from the patients yet they are duly paid by government.

She said they have already held a meeting with hospital leadership to see how this vice can be curbed down.

The hospital senior administrator, Peter Ocom Olak acknowledged that hospital administration is aware of the vice, adding that investigations into the matter are ongoing.

Ocom urged members of the public to always report such cases to hospital administrators so that the necessary action is taken.

“No one is expected to pay for any treatment unless it is in the private wing,” he added.

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