Ailing Ugandan MP Faces Unusual Ultimatum Over Medical Bills

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Muhammad Ssegirinya, the Member of Parliament for Kawempe North, is facing an unconventional ultimatum from the Amsterdam Universitair Medische Centra (umc) Hospital in the Netherlands. The hospital has reportedly given Ssegirinya the option to either pay Shs80 million (Ugandan Shillings) in medical bills or contribute to the hospital’s operations by performing tasks such as laundry or washing bed sheets.

Ssegirinya has been receiving medical treatment at the hospital since August 10. According to a letter from the hospital’s resident internal medicine officer, Mr. SJ Bogers, Ssegirinya is expected to remain a patient at the hospital for at least another three weeks.

In a recent interview with the Monitor newspaper, Ssegirinya expressed his concerns about the situation. He highlighted the challenges of funding his medical treatment and accused the Ugandan Parliament of neglecting its responsibility to support him financially. Ssegirinya referenced the Medical Insurance Scheme Guidelines for Members of Parliament, which entitles MPs to medical evacuation and treatment coverage.

While the Parliament had initially provided him with an air ticket to Nairobi, Ssegirinya claimed that he had spent approximately Shs70 million of his own money on medical treatment in Nairobi and Germany. He explained that his current medical condition, suspected to be linked to poisoning, has required extensive testing and treatments that could not be adequately administered within Uganda.

In response to Ssegirinya’s claims, the Director of Communications and Public Affairs at Parliament, Mr. Chris Obore, stated that Parliament provides medical coverage for its members based on certain procedures. He mentioned that if a lawmaker seeks medical treatment outside the country, the Parliament medical board needs to clear the case before funds are released.

Ssegirinya acknowledged that he did not follow the procedure for medical board clearance before traveling for treatment, but he asserted that he submitted his papers to the office of the Speaker. He expressed concerns about his deteriorating health, revealing that doctors had not yet specified the exact poisonous substances detected in his system.

Ssegirinya’s health issues gained prominence after his release from Luzira prison in February. He had been imprisoned for 15 months following allegations of involvement in machete attacks in Masaka. Due to his worsening health and the presence of lung tumors, he sought specialized medical treatment abroad with approval from Parliament.

As this situation unfolds, it highlights broader discussions about the responsibilities of government institutions to provide adequate medical care and financial support for their members during times of health crisis.

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