EDITORIAL: We need a sustainable solution to health care challenges for the poor

Last week, Kicukiro-based Masaka Hospital administrators revealed a disturbing situation, which could undermine provision of health services if it is not fixed urgently.

Last week, Kicukiro-based Masaka Hospital administrators revealed a disturbing situation, which could undermine provision of health services if it is not fixed urgently.

According to the hospital director, they have had to use part of their budget to pay medical bills of some patients, especially those without health insurance or those that have been abandoned at the facility. The facility also provides such patients other necessities like food.

Because such payments are not planned for, they obviously affect the budget of hospitals, and hence service delivery. If a hospital spends Rwf1 million per month or Rwf12 million annually on bills that are not related to its core business, it creates financing gaps which affect service delivery.

This is a tricky situation that hospitals cannot handle single-handedly, calling for the intervention of well-wishers and corporate firms to help ease the pressure on the hospitals’ budgets.

However, the situation means leaders at the grassroots have their job cutout; they need to more than double their efforts and mobilise people to subscribe for health insurance (Mutuelle de Sante) to ease the problem.

Efforts towards economic empowerment of Rwandans should also be doubled so that people are able to set up ventures that will ensure sustainable sources of income to cater for all their needs, including medical care.

Though hospitals should continue supporting patients who cannot foot their medical bills, this is not sustainable in the long-run. Therefore, mechanisms should be put in place to empower the masses so that they are able to meet their health needs. This way, we will avoid situations where hospitals find themselves with patients who can’t pay their medical bills.

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