Although the Mutuelle de Sante medical insurance scheme has garnered overwhelmingly positive reviews, some beneficiaries are expressing their discontent over the manner in which they are served.
Many complain that people willing to pay with cash, or who are members of “more valuable” medical insurance schemes like RAMA, are attended to immediately while those with Mutuelle de Sante have to wait in long queues.
“When you go to a reception room of a hospital, you are directed where to sit depending on whether you will pay with cash or have Mutuelle or RAMA. Those with cash are then ushered to the doctor first, as well as those with RAMA, while those with Mutuelle wait,” says Evode Muvandimwe, a resident of Kacyiru who The New Times found at Kibagabaga hospital.
Iniesta Kalisa, a resident of Gitega, Nyarugenge District added, “anyone who has money should not wait for Mutuelle de Sante treatment because they might end up losing their life; there are many procedures, like issuing transfers when the patient is physically there, even if in a comma. Plus, many of the hospitals where Mutuelle works also have less medicine and doctors.”
Margarita Mukakamanzi, a resident of Gicari, Rusororo Sector, also decried the service delay. She had been transferred to Kibagabaga hospital with a fungal skin disease early in the morning but had not been attended to by early afternoon.
Dr Bonaventure Nzeyimana, in charge of Public Health at the Ministry of Health, underscored the fact that it was illegal and against the principals of the Mutuelle scheme to segregate patients.
“If we discover such cases, we will punish the people involved. Everyone should have access to equal medical services,” he said.
On the issue of service delays and long queues, Dr. Nzeyimana explained: “Some patients mistake every staff member for a doctor, and when they don’t respond to their problems, they assume that there is poor service delivery”.
“We still have some deficiencies in the number of medical attendants. However, it is not an alarming issue since we discussed it with the authorities responsible for Mutuelle, and they have increased the number of workers. We also ensure that doctors report to work on time to attend to more people.”
Poorly stocked health centres
Another major issue highlighted was the lack of drugs even at major health clinics. After The New Times learnt that this was a general problem in clinics and hospitals nationwide, it approached the Minister of health, Dr Agnes Binagwaho, for explanation.
The Minister disclosed that lack of some drugs was an issue of procurement practices in hospitals. “When a doctor prescribes a certain medicine for the patient but the patient can’t find it, it is not because it mistakenly ran out of stock, but rather because of the poor drug procurement policies,” she explained.
The Minister further explained that in a bid to combat the challenge, the ministry was conducting trainings for personnel in charge of procurement in hospitals. It is also planning to install software that detects the level of stock of drugs in order to restock them in time. Pharmacists, who will monitor the supply, will be a operating at the district level.