KIGALI - Three districts and two Kigali-based prisons have not settled arrears they owe Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Kigali (CHUK) amounting to Rwf300 million.
Nyarugenge, Gasabo and Kicukiro districts, the central prison commonly known as 1930 and Kimironko prison, have not settled their medical bills.
Other debtors include the now declared bankrupt medical insurance company Suremed Health and some private individuals. According to inside sources, this has hindered the hospital’s progress, almost paralysing health care services to the public.
Theobald Hategekimana, the hospital top administrator, revealed to The New Times Tuesday, that the above mentioned institutions owe the hospital arrears since 2003 before decentralisation was fully completed.
“When we requested for the money, they told us to ask the line ministries, we did but nothing came of it. We have lost hope,” Hategekimana said from the hospital.
Without disclosing each institution’s arrears, Hategekimana said each one of the districts had piled debts from their residents who had been covered by a health insurance scheme, Mutuelle de Sante.
Late January, the Prosecution confirmed the arrest of 92 people in connection with defrauding funds meant for Mutuelle de Sante in which at least Rwf230m was embezzled.
A report on which the prosecution based to arrest the suspects of the scam, implicated district officers in charge of the Mutuelle funds and health workers at various grass root levels.
The country-wide communal health insurance scheme covers at least 85 percent of the Rwandan population. It is a government initiative to facilitate access to medical services at very affordable costs.
“According to our code of ethics, saving lives first is a priority, but then our hands are tied if we cannot buy equipment and medicines to replace those used,” Hategekimana decried.
“We also have patients who don’t subscribe to Mutuelle de Sante and end up not paying,” he added.
According to the hospital director, people from the informal sector; such as hawkers, builders, street children, commercial sex workers, beggars and others are at high risk of falling ill, but have no health insurance and are not able to pay hospital bills, making the hospital incur accumulated debts.
The most affected department is internal medicine, paediatric and maternal awards, which need to be equipped to have better services.
Some of the solutions to those problems included building, more wards to create space for admitted patients of which the central government hospital could not afford due to the unpaid debts.
However the director says there is hope for the hospital to improve since government institutions have a decentralised system and most of the citizens are getting insured.
“Starting late last year, we have seen a very big change in payment because those institutions now pay us directly,” Hategekimana noted.