SMF EA Ltd has been in partnership with Butuuro Sacco since 2014. The Sacco provides products and services that mainly target low income earners and hence being well aligned to the vision and mission of SMF EA Ltd.Butuuro SACCO was founded by a group of friends in 2007 with a major aim of bringing financial services nearer to the people, by making the institution governed, owned and controlled by the people. It is located in the western part of Uganda, Nyakabirizi Town, about 3km before Bushenyi Town along Mbarara-Ishaka road.
The Medical Scheme
At its inception the SACCO had only 46 members. By 2012, the membership had increased to 1500 with clients coming in to borrow money for different reasons. It’s at this point that the proprietors decided to do a survey among members on what kind of products would address their pressing needs. The manager of the SACCO, Mr. Tumuhimbise Peter revealed that they discovered that many members were borrowing money to facilitate descent funerals for family members.
We realized that this was going to keep members in a cycle of poverty. So we thought of a starting a unique scheme that would address this need and stop members from borrowing funds that would rather be used for their economic development. Said Peter.
This would require members to make a small contribution of UGX 500 that could be directly deducted from their accounts towards funeral arrangements fund. Members warmly welcomed the idea and the scheme was started. However, after one year, having observed how much relief their little contribution was bringing to them, members suggested a more health sustaining idea, than savings towards burial. This begun discussions on creating the medical scheme product.
Through their own mobilisation UGX 56 million was raised towards the cause. It was used for renting the building where the clinic operates now, hiring staff (both administration and medical) as well as purchase of drugs and other important clinical material. In 2013, it was passed that a deduction of UGX 1000 be made from each member’s account towards the medical scheme on a monthly basis and on 1st January 2014, Butuuro SACCO Health Center was officially launched.
How the Medical Scheme Works.
Members are issued Health Insurance Cards annually which enable them to access the available health services at the clinic. In addition, members pay UGX 5,000 for health treatment or UGX 10, 000 if the person requires admission. Tumuhimbise explains that the extra charge on the members was aimed at limiting misuse of the scheme. “Some members would just come to get drugs for their self-medication since they were contributing 1000 shillings every month. So, the treatment charge was put in place to limit such misuse; and it helped because whoever comes here now is surely and requires medical attention,” Tumuhimbise adds.
Highlights of achievements
- For the last two years the facility has been in existence, 3565 people have received medical services, both members and non-members. The facility does not only render services to the members, but also to non-members who come in for health services
- The health insurance has helped to sensitize the members about the importance of good health and ensuring that they access health services.
- The facility has helped to bring health services nearer to the masses especially those living in NYAKABIRIZI Town Board.
- It has created employment to the people. Currently including Administrators and medical staff.
- Butuuro SACCO Health services has endeavored to promote the poverty eradication campaign among the members as the facility has reduced on their hitherto expensive health services in clinics, to just UGX 5000 and UGX 10000 for those needing admission.
Catherine Mutungi testified; “I used to spend a lot of money in clinics whenever my children fell sick, but now, I spend little because it’s only 5000 shillings for treatment. The clinics have been over charging us making us poorer,”
According to Peter, The major challenge is the standard of the health services so far available at the facility. Because of limited funds, the medical centre is yet to have up to standard laboratory equipment to cater for the medical needs of the community. They mainly service people with minor cases like malaria, minor accidents etc. Other challenges include transport constraint faced by members coming from far distances and inadequate key operational funds like rent and salaries for medical staff.
What is needed to keep it and up to the standard?
Tumuhimbise says if the following would be available, the facility would move to greater heights
- Mobilization of more members and sensitization of existing members since the facility gets its funding based on contribution from members.
- Provide better remuneration to staff of the facility
- Acquire more and better medical equipment
- Availing transport means for emergencies
- Enlightening the members to appreciate the extra charges which some see as expensive
“In the next 5 years… We are looking at having resolved all the current challenges we have and be more efficient in provision of medical services to our members.” ~ Tumuhimbise