MPs back Patient’s Rights Bill

Senior pathologist Dr. Sylvester Onzivua says the Bill is long overdue.

By Henry Sekanjako


MPs and medical practitioners have backed the proposed Patient’s Rights and Responsibilities Bill 2015 saying if passed into law, the Bill will promote emancipation of patients whose rights have been trampled on by some health practitioners.


Speaking during a consultative meeting on the Bill, Kigulu South MP Milton Muwuma said there is a need for a law to prohibit discrimination in health care delivery and safeguarding the rights of patients to confidentiality.


Muwuma also added that there is a need for an informed consent from patients undergoing treatment as well as giving full information to patients about the risks involved with medical procedures and medication undertaken.


“Patient’s rights violations are happening not necessarily because the perpetrators know, most are not , this law shall facilitate awareness and then create a win-win situation on the part of Government as the custodian of citizen’s rights and health workers as agents of government and the citizens whose health must take center stage,” said Muwuma.


The MPs noted that the Government needed to legitimize the patients’ responsibility of following the plan of care, providing complete and accurate health information and communicating comprehension of instructions on procedures and treatment.


“We do not have to fear using legislative approaches, it means Uganda is on course to realizing Universal health coverage , we talk of the minimum healthcare package, where our government has pledged in its manifesto, policies , plans and laws that we can support public health within our financial limits,” said Jacob Wangolo the Bunyole West MP.


Wangolo added that; “This Bill shall work within that spirit considering that citizens enjoy rights within what their taxes afford the government to provide. Let us monitor what has been budgeted for to ensure that government efforts are put to better use”.


The proposed law which is yet to be tabled before parliament for the first reading, empowers patients to give feedback (both positive and negative) or comments, or raise concerns or complaints about the health care they’ve received.


It also seeks to provide equitable access to quality medical care, ensuring patients’ privacy and the confidentiality of their medical information, informing patients and obtaining their consent before employing a medical intervention, and providing a safe clinical environment.


“This Bill is long overdue; issues of health affect both health workers and patients. There are some doctors who are ignorant of the law, this proposed Bill will enlighten both parties on what their rights are,” said Dr. Sylvester Onzivua a senior pathologist.


However Onzivua urged Government to ensure enforcement and sensitization of the public about the Bill when passed into law adding that it would be useless if left on the shelves.


The architect of the Bill, Uganda National Health Users/Consumers Organization (UNHCO), said the Bill builds citizens’ confidence in the health care system, by making it easy for patients to be involved in their own healthcare.


“The Bill places the patient at the center of care, employing the patient welfare principle and implores health workers to lead the advocacy of patient rights,” said Moses Talibita the legal officer UNHCO.


According to World Health Organization, there is a growing international consensus that all patients have a fundamental right to privacy, to the confidentiality of their medical information, to consent to or to refuse treatment, and to be informed about relevant risk to them of medical procedures.

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