Parliament will foot the medical bills of Muhammad Ssegirinya, the Member of Parliament representing Kawempe Division North once his documents are in order with the Uganda Medical Board; Deputy Speaker of Parliament Thomas Tayebwa told a parliamentary sitting on Tuesday, 22 August 2023.
The Deputy Speaker was reacting to public outcry that the August House had neglected and denied one of their financial support towards his treatment abroad. Ssegirinya is currently admitted to the Amsterdam Universitair Medische Centra Hospital in the Netherlands.
Tayebwa noted that the Office of the Speaker and that of the Clerk to Parliament, as well as the medical board, had not received any application from Ssegirinya for his treatment in the Netherlands. He, however, urged his immediate family to present his documents to the medical board so that he could receive financial assistance.
Tayebwa said: “The moment we are told that Hon. Ssegirinya’s documents have been approved, we shall ensure he receives all the necessary funding the next day just like we have done for other Members of Parliament.”
He refuted social media claims that Parliament has not done anything to support Ssegirinya. He noted that clear guidelines have to be followed when processing treatment abroad for anybody be it an MP or Minister.
Tayebwa clarified that for an ailment needing treatment abroad; a member has to make an application to the Uganda Medical Board for a referral. The requisition is then signed by the referring doctor together with two senior medical practitioners.
The referring doctor would then defend the application before a team of 12 senior specialists sitting on the medical board.
“Upon approval of the board, the patient is issued with a referral letter from the Director General of Health Services. The Minister for Health then issues a communication to Parliament or Office of the Prime Minister for processing of foreign currency and the referral,” Tayebwa said.
He urged legislators to follow set guidelines when the use of public funds comes into question.
“I have seen you, honourable colleagues putting other officials on oath and even directing CID to arrest government officials for not following accountability procedure. The yardstick you base others on is the same one you should use,” Tayebwa added.
Cecilia Ogwal (FDC, District Woman Representative, Dokolo) alluded to the conception of institutionalization of medical insurance in Parliament where the medical board advised that there should be a contact person who is a medical doctor.
“If anybody has an issue, the first place of call is our medical personnel here [Parliament]. They can recommend areas you can go to and the Minister for Health will reinforce that,” said Ogwal.
The Leader of the Opposition, Mathias Mpuuga, called for revision of the insurance scheme of Parliament citing poor service provision.
Mpuuga said: “Some of the insurance companies are cheating members and some of them are supplying air. The first line of contact for the MP would have been his insurance company, not the medical board.”
Tayebwa said the Speaker of Parliament has already instructed the Clerk to study the matter and prepare a commission paper that will be discussed in its next meeting.
Ssegirinya has been at the Dutch hospital since August 10th 2023 and has a bill of Shs80 to pay. Daily Monitor Wednesday quoted SJ Bogers saying in a letter that Ssegirinya will continue to be their patient for at least another three weeks.
When he fails to clear the medical bill, Ssegirinya told Daily Monitor that the medical facility might force him to wash the hospital bed sheets.
“…they agreed to treat me and I said if I fail to raise the money, I will clean the hospital and or wash the bed sheets. I told them to go ahead and save my life. I will do as they say,” the newspaper quotes Ssegirinya.