The Government is working out a plan to establish a Medical Credit Fund, through which private health service providers will borrow money to improve the quality of the healthcare they deliver. Such a fund would allow private health facilities to acquire affordable loans to support upgrades,expansions and purchase of new equipment.
Several activists and the ministry of health are pushing for the establishment of the fund as part of measures to improve health service delivery. Grace Ssali Kiwanuka, the executive director of the Uganda Healthcare Federation, said the fund would play an important role in addressing some of the challenges faced by private health service providers.
“Some private health facilities do not meet some of the standards for quality care. A medical credit fund will allow such facilities acquire affordable financing to improve service delivery,” she told UGANDANZ.COM on the sidelines of the fifth Annual Quality Improvement Conference at Hotel Africana in Kampala on Thursday.
According to Kiwanuka, the World Bank is willing to provide $5m (sh18.5b) for the fund, but this will require the government to raise$600,000 (sh2.2b) in next year’s national budget for the initiative to start.The director general of health services, Dr Henry Mwebesa, said the medical credit fund will help strengthen the capacity of private health facilities to investigate ailments and lower costs of patient care.
“As government, we will be happy when our partners (private health facilities) are able to recruit more staff, purchase modern equipment and improve the quality of care since we cannot do it all alone,” he said.
Uganda has about 6,000 health facilities, of which about 2,000 are private facilities and the rest spread between the government and private not-for-profit. A recent assessment of service delivery in private health facilities shows that the facilities rank well in infrastructure, client care, as well as infection, prevention and control.
The facilities, however, ranked poorly in terms of governance and leadership, as well as occupational health and safety. Imaging and radiology facilities were also found to be wanting, the survey revealed.
At least 600 private health facilities, including 35 in Kampala,took part in the safe care assessment, a tool through which the health facilities rate their quality of services across 16 indicators. The tool,developed in 2015, allows the health facilities to rate their performance across several indicators, including infrastructure, essential care, health promotion and records management.
The facilities had an average score of 73% in the assessment which was conducted between May and September this year by the Uganda Healthcare Federation and other partners. Some commercial banks in Uganda are already providing some form of medical credit, but it is limited in scope and size and out of reach for smaller facilities that badly need upgrade and expansion