Self-medicating when Expert Consultation Fees are almost Zero

In September 2014, a New Vision reporter published a report that indicated that 81% of malaria patients attempted to self-medicate with antibiotics. This report directly suggested that all these patients only checked in with a doctor at a medical facility if the illness persisted after their first trial. This of course continues to cripple all the efforts by the stakeholders in the fight against this disease.

The number of hospitals and medical centers has drastically kept growing in Uganda at an average of about 11% since 2011, according to data from the ministry of Health. The GDP per capita of Uganda has also been growing reasonably in recent years; implying that Ugandans have seen substantial increase in their personal income.

But one may wonder, “Why would a patient insist on self-medicating; even when their income has substantially improved, and many medical personnel in Uganda charge either small or zero rates for consultation?      

Well, many medical industry players have different schools of thought on this issue; and many of these are true for example, many Ugandans feel it’s just very convenient and not costly. Some think that as much as many Ugandans wouldn’t want to spend a lot of money on consultation, many still wish they could get this access.

The challenge is that patient-doctor relationship is usually considered a short term endeavor by majority of the patients. Given that there is no proper record follow up of patients in majority of the medical facilities in Uganda, it becomes a bit of a hurdle for medical personnel to have long term relationship with patients.

Many argue that a weak patient-doctor relationship does not really encourage easy consultation. The patient doesn’t really feel it convenient even if the consultation cost was reduced to zero.


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