Search this journal:     Advanced search
Original Research

Awareness of, responsiveness to and practice of patients’ rights at Uganda’s national referral hospital

Harriet R. Kagoya, Dan Kibuule, Honoré Mitonga-Kabwebwe, Elizabeth Ekirapa-Kiracho, John C. Ssempebwa

African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine; Vol 5, No 1 (2013), 7 pages. doi: 10.4102/phcfm.v5i1.491

Submitted: 05 October 2012
Published:  21 June 2013


Background: The realisation of patients’ rights in resource-constrained and patient-burdened public health care settings in Uganda remains an obstacle towards quality health care delivery, health care seeking behaviour and health outcomes. Although the Uganda Patients’ Charter of 2009 empowers patients to demand quality care, inequitable access and abuse remain common.


Aim: The study aimed to assess level of awareness of, responsiveness to and practice of patients’ rights amongst patients and health workers (HWs) at Uganda’s national referral hospital, Mulago Hospital in Kampala.


Methods: A three-phase cross-sectional questionnaire-based descriptive survey was conducted amongst 211 patients, 98 HWs and 16 key informants using qualitative and quantitative data collection methods. The study was conducted in May–June 2012, 2.5 years after the launch of the Uganda Patients’ Charter.


Results: At least 36.5% of patients faced a challenge regarding their rights whilst seeking health care. Most of the patients (79%) who met a challenge never attempted to demand their rights. Most patients (81.5%) and HWs (69.4%) had never heard of the Uganda Patients’ Charter. Awareness of patients’ rights was significantly higher amongst HWs (70%) than patients (40%) (p < 0.01). Patients’ awareness was associated with education level (x2 = 42.4,p < 0.001), employment status (x2 = 33.6, p < 0.001) and hospital visits (x2 = 3.9, p = 0.048). For HWs it was associated with education level (x2 = 155.6, p < 0.001) and length of service (x2 = 154.5, p <0.001).Patients feel powerless to negotiate for their rights and fear being discriminated against based on their ability to bribe HWs with money to access care, and political, socio-economic and tribal status.


Conclusion and recommendations: Awareness of, responsiveness to and practice of patients’ rights remains limited at Mulago Hospital. There is a need for urgent implementation of an integrated multilevel, multichannel, patient-centred approach that incorporates social services and addresses intrinsic patient, HW and health system factors to strengthen patients’ rights issues at the hospital.

Full Text:  |  HTML  |  EPUB  |  XML  |  PDF (530KB)

Author affiliations

Harriet R. Kagoya, School of Public Health, Makerere University, Uganda
Dan Kibuule, Pharmacy Department, University of Namibia,, Namibia
Honoré Mitonga-Kabwebwe, Community Medicine Department, University of Namibia, Namibia
Elizabeth Ekirapa-Kiracho, School of Public Health, Makerere University, Uganda
John C. Ssempebwa, School of Public Health, Makerere University, Uganda


Patients’ rights; Awareness; Responsiveness; Practice; Patients’ Charter;


Total abstract views: 4773
Total article views: 10810


No related citations found

Comments on this article

Before posting your comment, please read our policy.
Post a Comment (Login required)

ISSN: 2071-2928 (print) | ISSN: 2071-2936 (online)

Connect on: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube

Subscribe to our newsletter

All articles published in this journal are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license, unless otherwise stated.

Website design & content: ©2018 AOSIS (Pty) Ltd. All rights reserved. No unauthorised duplication allowed.

AOSIS Publishing | Empowering Africa through access to knowledge
Postnet Suite #110, Private Bag X19, Durbanville, South Africa, 7551
Tel: 086 1000 381 
Tel: +27 21 975 2602 
Fax: 086 5004 974

publishing(AT) replace (AT) with @

Please read the privacy statement.