Kyaliwajjala-based Jaro Hospital has been dragged to Court for allegedly detaining a 15-year-old boy after his family failed to clear a medical bill of Shs4.8 million.

Robert Ssentongo was involved in a motor accident while on a bodaboda around GP Petrol station along Namugongo road on July 23rd, 2022. He was run over by a speeding car and rushed to Jaro hospital for treatment.

According to Ssentongo’s father, Raymond Mugerwa, he was informed of his son’s accident and rushed to the health facility. Upon arrival, he requested that his son be referred to a more affordable public facility but health workers informed him that his son was in critical condition and could not make it since he needed an emergency operation to stop internal bleeding.

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“My son walked himself to the theatre and the operation was successfully conducted on the 23rd of July 2022. In fear of huge medical bills, on 25th July 2022, my wife and I pleaded for a referral to a public facility but our request was turned down,” reads part of the documents before the High Court Civil Division.

He added that on August 4th, the hospital gave him an invoice of Shs 4,423,000 and a good samaritan offered to pay Shs1.5 million and draw a payment plan with the hospital for later payment but they declined the offer and demanded full settlement.

Mugerwa narrates that since August 24th, the hospital has detained his son without food and basic needs of life on account of their inability to pay Shs4.8 million. He adds that his son was due for discharge from the hospital when they locked him up and secluded him in a room without access to medical care and supervision of any medical personnel.

In a joint suit filed together with the Center for Health, Human Rights and Development against the hospital and its Director Dr. James Odongo, Mugerwa argues that the decision by the hospital to detain his son is a violation of his right to health and freedom of liberty.

He says the hospital has since denied him and his wife access to their son despite his efforts to secure his release on the condition that he would make a partial payment and stake his residence as collateral.

Through their lawyers at the Center for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) Legal Aid Clinic, Springs Advocates, and Tangle Advocates, the applicants want the court to order Ssentongo’s immediate release so that he returns to school on September 4th, 2022. They also want the hospital to pay him costs for their actions.

The court is yet to summon the hospital to file its defense before the matter is scheduled for a hearing.

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