Uganda Middle Class, Urban Dwellers Prefer Private Hospitals -Study

Ugandan middle class or those living in urban areas are less likely to seek medical care in government facilities compared to the poor or those in rural areas. The obvious finding is according to a survey published by Twaweza East Africa.

The survey was aimed at investigating how households in Kampala and the border districts of Kyotera and Tororo responded to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The findings show that 17 percent of Ugandans seek care in private health facilities compared to 56 percent who go to government facilities. Among those who go to private facilities, 43 percent are rich or live in urban areas compared to 16 percent who are poor or live in rural areas.

According to the findings, many of those who went to government facilities reside in rural areas where government facilities are more common compared to private to facilities.

Marie Nanyanzi, as senior programme manager at Twaweza East Africa says the survey (expectedly) shows that many people who seek care in public facilities are often poor and from rural areas.

The survey also highlighted the services that persons who seek care in public health facilities find. 48 percent of the respondents said their visits to a public health facility was characterized by a lack drugs or other supplies, while 29 percent said there were long queues. 20 percent of the respondents said the staff in these facilities were not attentive to the needs of the patients while eight percent said staff were rude. The absence of doctors, dirty health facilities and lack of hospital beds was also noted by some.

Following the release of the findings from the survey, government health officials intimated the obvious that improvement is needed in public health facilities.

Dr J.B Wanyiaye, the commissioner in-charge of emergency services says the obvious that many people seek care in places where they know they will get good treatment.  He intimates the obvious that many rich people might be preferring private facilities because the health workers there are more professional and kind. 

” People go where they will be looked after well, where the think they will get the best service,” he says. “Now, the issue of rude health workers has come up and that is an issue that we need to deal with. Our health workers need to be more compassionate and present. They need to learn how to talk to patients. If this is done, plus the current investments in health, public facilities will be preferred by the rich too.”

Dr Daniel Okello, the director of public health at the Kampala Capital City Authority says in some urban areas, like Kampala, it is inevitable for private health facilities to have more patients since they are more in number. 

Okello says in Kampala, over 90 percent of the health services are private and as such chances are private facilities will have more traffic than the public.