Arua, Uganda | URN | Several patients seeking health services at Arua Regional Referral Hospital in the West Nile Region are being denied treatment due to lack of smartphones.
The most affected patients are those seeking radiology services like X-ray and computerized tomography CT scan at the Out-Patients Department (OPD).
The development comes at a time when the hospital management moves to fully operationalize the newly constructed OPD facility equipped with modern equipment, constructed with a grant from the government of Japan.
The smartphones are used to send radiology examination results to patients as opposed to the old practice where the results are printed on X-ray film.
Fred Tabu, the deputy Arua city speaker who was referred for X-ray services at the facility this week, told Uganda Radio Network that several patients could not be attended to due to lack of a smartphone to access their results. Tabu further noted that at least three patients who had turned up for x-ray services were turned away in his presence since they lacked smartphones.
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Paul Atayo, a businessman in Arua city wants the hospital administration to go slow in the digitalization of services in the facility noting that a large number of the population lacks smartphones. He further argued that several residents cannot afford smartphones since they are expensive.
Dr. Alex Andema, the Director of Arua Regional Referral Hospital explained that they adopted the use of smartphones especially for accessing X-ray results in order to among others improve their service. But, Dr. Andema denied the claims by patients that those without smartphones are being denied x-ray services.
In 2022, the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) market report estimated that Smartphone penetration in the country stood at 30% while the remaining 70% of Ugandans use a basic phone or feature phone.