Cost of Treating COVID-19 Patients “incredibly high”: Salesian Missionaries in Uganda

A woman in Uganda receiving food donations from members of Salesians of Don Bosco. Credit: Salesian Missions

Members of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) in Uganda’s Archdiocese of Kampala have noted with concern the “incredibly high” cost of treating COVID-19 patients in the East African country.

“The cost of hospital care for those with COVID-19 is incredibly high in Uganda,” SDB members say in a Monday, July 19 report, and add, “some private hospitals in the country are charging up to 5 million Uganda shillings per day (US$1,400.00).”

In the report, the Director of Don Bosco Namugongo School, Fr. Ellie Nyandwi, has been quoted as saying only a few rich people are able to raise such a big amount, a situation that has made people resort to self-care in their respective homes to manage the coronavirus.

“Most of the patients remain at their homes and treat themselves with lemon juice mixed with ginger. These patients also steam herbs and eucalyptus leaves,” Fr. Nyandwi said, adding, “Don Bosco Namugongo has a eucalyptus plantation that is visited frequently by both Salesians and neighbors searching for leaves.”

The Salesian Priest further noted that hospitals in the country are overcrowded and can barely take in more patients.


“Doctors have advised people who have tested positive but have no symptoms to avoid moving outside their homes unless when seeking medical care to avoid further infections because for now, hospitals, both private and public, are overcrowded,” Fr. Nyandwi is quoted as saying in the report published by Mission Newswire, the Salesian Missions official news service.

In the report, SDB members say they are using their “limited resources” to reach out to those whose livelihoods have been affected by the pandemic.

They also announce their plan to partner with communities around the Mission and to carry out social media awareness to solicit for food donations.

“Salesians couldn’t remain relaxed and comfortable as we witnessed many people suffering due to hunger,” Fr. Elie Nyandwi says, and adds, “Our Salesian community, with its limited resources, is assisting the poor during this critical moment by visiting and giving some food to the most vulnerable families.”

“Other Salesian collaborators around the mission also are joining in to help feed the poor,” he further says, and explains, “There is a WhatsApp group where information is shared, and people are giving the little they have or are helping to distribute the food items, including maize flour, beans and cooking oil.”

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The Salesian Priest noted the challenge occasioned by COVID-19 restrictions saying, “As of now, the situation has gone beyond our capacity. For instance, on July 1, we identified 50 of the most vulnerable families from our neighborhood to be assisted. These families couldn’t reach the Salesian community due to the restrictions imposed by the lockdown.”

Fr Nyandwi added, “We organized some food to be delivered and offered 2 kg of beans and 2 kg of maize flour since the number kept increasing drastically. We also cut about 30 bunches of bananas from our garden with some vegetables and shared them.”