Written by Dr. Gregory Bartha
If you are going to Africa to do medical work, you need to have good financial backing because the costs involved, while modest by US standards, mount up rapidly. Most of the people in the villages cannot afford to contribute anything to pay for their medical treatment. They are surviving on one or two dollars a day. Public hospitals in the cities are not supposed to charge for services, but they frequently do. Transportation costs have to be factored in as well as medications, diagnostic tests, surgery, and medical staff salaries.
Some of the costs involved are as follows:
Chest X-ray $7.00
Abdominal ultrasound $7.00
Liver enzymes $15.00
Kidney function tests $1500
CBC (blood count) $3.00
CT scan of abdomen $100.00 (Surgeons frequently want this before doing surgery)
Hernia repair $90.00
Hemorrhoid surgery $90.00
Cataract surgery $90.00
Thyroid surgery for goiter $150.00 (The charge for this surgery was much lower at a Catholic charity hospital 100 miles distant than at a facility in Mbale at $450.00)
Hydrocephalus surgery at CURE Hospital in Mbale $265.00
Spina bifida repair at CURE $265.00
Surgery for osteomyelitis $440.00
Repair of hip fracture $740.00
Repair of other lower leg fracture $400.00
Biopsy for suspected tumor $80.00
Cancer treatment at government referral hospital in Kampala $500.00 (government provided some assistance)
Transportation to Mbale by motorcycle $3.00
Transportation to Kampala by bus $8.00
We tried to get patients to contribute a small amount for transport to Mbale. We also instituted a program of giving patients a small amount each week for them to save up for surgery. At the Cross Hospital we usually charged less than $1.00 for medications and $3.00 for IV malaria treatment but provided these free of charge for those unable to pay. The monthly cost of operating the Cross Emergency Hospital and providing financial assistance for treatment is approximately $6000.00.
I often hear people ask why they should contribute money to help people in Africa when there are so many problems here in the US. My best answer to them is that in the US there are many charity and governmental programs to help people, but in Africa most people get no assistance.