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Opinion: Uganda's govt.'s plan to subsidise private healthcare facilities to reduce Covid-19 treatment costs will disadvantage the poor

"Building strong public health system is key"

The public outcry over the high costs for Covid-19 treatment in private healthcare facilities and calls to regulate them has prompted government to engage in discussions with the private sector on finding solutions. Recent media reports have indicated that policy makers and some private health care providers are mooting the idea of government providing subsidies to private health facilities. Specific suggestions have been made for government to build oxygen plants at private health facilities, issue tax waivers, provide materials such personal protective equipments, offer direct cash subsidies, or pick up the bills of individuals who have been treated in private facilities.

These suggestions are misguided. To subsidise the private sector would be aiding the privileged few at the expense of the majority...Indeed, commercial private health facilities have always had costs that are out of reach for the majority. It, therefore, makes no sense for government to divert resources needed in the public sector in the futile exercise of trying to lower costs in private health facilities.