Every Ugandan above 18 years will be mandated to contribute towards the National Health Insurance Scheme when it becomes operational, a top Ministry of Health official said.
Dr Sarah Byakika, the commissioner of Planning, Finance and Policy in the Ministry, however, did not reveal what methods the government will use to ensure that every Ugandan in the target bracket contributes, given the challenges involved.
“Every Ugandan above the age of 18 must contribute to the health insurance policy. Soon the draft will be taken to cabinet,” Dr Byakika said on Wednesday at the Uganda National Conference on Health, Human Rights and Development organised by the Centre for Health, Human Rights and Development (Cehurd) in Kampala.
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But Prof Ben Twinomugisha, a law don at Makerere University, asked government to go slow on the programme.
“Why don’t we study the Rwanda Health Insurance Scheme because poverty is a serious variable in these matters and we need to look into them,” Prof Twinomugisha said.
Dr Elizabeth Mugambe, who represented the World Health Organisation (WHO) at the conference, said: “WHO is committed to realisation of the right to health. We have remained committed to supporting member states in their efforts to mainstream human rights into policies and programmes.”
About 92 percent of Rwandan citizens are covered by their nation’s health insurance scheme that is celebrated as one of the most successful in the world.
Read: Rwanda has achieved universal healthcare
At a premium of $8 (Rwf9,604) a year, the Rwandan Health Insurance Scheme provides basic health services such as maternity care and treatment for the most common causes of death, such as diarrhoea, malnutrition, malaria, infections, and pneumonia.
Uganda is one of those countries that don’t have a national health insurance policy, a scheme that is supposed to enable citizens to access quality and affordable health services estimated at 41 percent of total expenditure on health.
This has left many Ugandans struggling with the high medical expenses, forcing some to sell their property to foot medical bills while others who have failed to foot them have been detained by health facilities.
The primary objective of the bill is to remedy the very high out-of-pocket expenditure, which most Ugandans experience.
It is hoped that the policy will be financed majorly through contributions made by employees defined as both salaried and self-employed people.