The high ambulance costs associated with transporting COVID-19 patients are unavoidable, according to the Ministry of Health. On the open market, it costs Shs 360,000 to transport a COVID-19 patient within Kampala.
In other parts of the country, private service providers such as City Ambulances charge as much as Shillings 2.6million to transport a patient from Kampala to Arua. While these fees might look exorbitant, the health ministry, says that they are justifiable given the cost of emergency services.
They say that even the government, which does not charge for the services spends a lot of money to transport patients around Kampala. Dr. John Baptist Wanyiaye, the commissioner in charge of Emergency Services in the Health Ministry says that the government spends Shillings 200,000 to transport COVID-19 patients within Kampala.
According to Dr. Wanyiaye, there is no way they can operate an ambulance service without spending money.
“Money is spent on buying fuel, paying risk allowances, procuring personal protective equipment, refilling oxygen cylinders and emergency medicines used in the ambulance,” he said
Wanyiaye adds that if the government can spend that much on ambulance services, then private hospitals obviously charge more since none of their costs are subsidized by the government.
If these costs are to reduce, Dr. Wanyiaye says government will have to invest in procuring over 200 ambulances to extend services to all Ugandans. As of today, the country has 116 government run ambulances.