At least seven mothers have alleged that Mulago Specialised Women and Neonatal Hospital (MSWNH) has detained them and their newborn babies due to their inability to settle their medical bills.
In 2018, the government authorized the facility to charge patients, with the provision of waivers for those who cannot afford to pay, aiming to keep costs at around 60 percent of what private healthcare providers charge.
Specifically, mothers such as Ms. Lydia Namisango and Ms. Carol Nakabira claimed that they have been under detention at the hospital since October 11, an allegation that the hospital’s management refuted.
During a visit to the hospital by Daily Monitor on Tuesday, it was revealed that Ms. Namisango’s medical bill amounted to Shs1.3 million, while Ms. Nakabira’s bill for a C-section was Shs1.377 million.
The hospital had reduced Ms. Nakabira’s bill to Shs247,500.
Information from the facility indicates that the charges for childbirth at the hospital vary, ranging from Shs200,000 for a normal birth to more than Shs2 million, depending on the complications involved.
Mr. Mathia Wasswa, Ms. Namisango’s husband, explained that his wife was detained at the hospital because they couldn’t pay the Shs1.3 million bill.
They had arrived at the hospital on October 3, and his wife had undergone a C-section.
After being discharged four days later, they were told to wait for the bill, which was provided around noon.
They were then informed that she had to pay the bill, and she has been in detention since that day.
Dr. Emmanuel Byaruhanga, the executive director of Kawempe Hospital, where the patient was initially taken, did not comment on the matter immediately, requesting to meet with the reporter later.
However, Mr. Felix Kayihura, the client relations officer at MSWNH, refuted the allegations, stating that no mother had been detained by the hospital.
He also confirmed that both Ms. Namisango and Ms. Nakabira had been discharged and gone home.
“We have a waiver system. When you apply, the committee sits weekly [to determine the waiver],” Mr. Kayihura stated. He emphasized that not everyone would be eligible for a waiver but that particular attention was given to patients referred from other facilities.
Ms. Jane Namaganda, a program officer at the Centre for Health, Human Rights, and Development (CEHURD), a civil society organization, has written to the hospital management, cautioning that the health facility is not authorized to function as a detention center.