House moots bill on patient’s rights

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MP Akamba

Members of Parliament have unanimously supported the Motion to grant leave to Hon. Paul Akamba (Busiki County) to introduce a private member’s Bill on Patient’s Rights and Responsibilities.

The Bill intends to improve the quality of healthcare services received by patients; empower patients to participate in the process of seeking or receiving healthcare and ensure ethical treatment of persons seeking or receiving healthcare.

It also seeks to enhance patient-provider relationship and provide for responsibilities of patients to follow the plan of care, provide complete and accurate health information and be accountable of the outcome if he or she refuses treatment or fails to properly follow instructions.

While making the case for the Bill on Wednesday, 10th January 2018, Akamba informed Parliament that despite the fact that the Ministry of Health adopted the Patient Charter of October 2009 that spells out that clients should receive quality and professional healthcare so as to improve the quality of life of all Ugandans, the privileges are not legally binding.

“The Ministry of Health recognizes clients’ rights to include: the right to services, information, non-discrimination, participation; to be treated with respect and courtesy, informed consent, confidentiality, timely intervention, privacy and safe environment and hence the need to codify these rights in the laws of Uganda,” he said.

Akamba noted that the there are no enforceable assurances that the patient will receive the deserved quality healthcare.

“This calls for a law to be enacted to ensure that patients’ rights are catered for and that the obligations and responsibilities of patients are also well articulated in the law,” he added.

Hon. Andrew Kiiza Kaluya (Kigulu South) said that the Bill would among others protect patients that are detained because they cannot meet their medical bills.

“Some of these patients are tortured, which is an infringement of human rights; others are denied medical attention because they are unable to pay and this puts their families in financial jeopardy,” he said.

The Minister of State for Health, Hon. Sarah Opendi Achieng, however, remarked that the Bill would have serious implications in the health sector.

“My concern is with the financial implications involved and the fact that the Bill will equally prompt a health workers Bill (to be presented),” she noted.

The Minister of State for Finance, Hon. David Bahati, said that they have no reservations with the Bill.

“If the Motion is talking about the rights of patients, we cannot stop it unless we examine and establish if it has a charge on the consolidated fund.”

The Deputy Speaker, Rt. Hon. Jacob Oulanyah, informed the House that the Bill does not violate any provision of the Constitution.