Health development partners have called on government to prioritise funding to the health sector.
The partners who include international organizations like World Health Organisation, UNHCR, Centre for Disease Control, SIDA, KOICA, USAID, World Food Programme and UNCIEF made this call while meeting the Parliamentary Committee on Health to discuss issues affecting the health sector. The meeting took place on Tuesday, 02 November 2021.
Dr. Julius Kasozi, UNHCR’s Public Health Officer and Chairperson of the Health Development Partners said the health financing attributes in Uganda are concerning given a lack of increase in health expenditure.
“Government falls short having decreased the health budget allocation from 8.9 per cent to 6.1 per cent in the last 10 years even with the growing pressing demands on the health systems locally and globally,” he said.
Dr. Kasozi talked about over dependency on aid from development partners yet the foreign aid has continued to decrease, a trajectory, he says is likely to continue.
“In the last year alone, external funding decreased by Sshs511.4 billion on account of projects that are exiting and those that have scaled down,” he added.
Dr. Kasozi asked the committee to lobby the central government to fast track the operationalisation of the National Health Insurance Scheme as it would help lower the out-of-pocket expenditure on medical care.
He requested the committee to push government to increase its budget allocation to health for purposes of sustainability especially in light of the economic and social shocks created the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It is easy to lobby for funding from external players when the government is seen to be doing everything in its might to prioritise funding to the health sector,” Dr. Kasozi added.
Hon Joel Ssebikaali who chaired the committee expressed concern about the continued deduction in funding to the health sector.
“It is unbelievable that government is giving very little to the sector yet with the pandemic, health has taken centre stage,” he said.
Ssebikaali added that without the National Health Insurance, increment of funding is impossible.
The District Woman MP for Bulambuli, Hon. Irene Muloni requested the development partners not to reduce their support to the health sector because the country is not in position to fill the funding gaps.
“We are still struggling as a nation and the recent pandemic has put us in a worse situation; we need you more than ever to compensate for the funding gaps in the health sector,” she added.
Hon. Mary Annet Nakato (Indep., Buyende District) joined Muloni to ask the partners not to waver in their commitment in financially supporting the health sector.
She said that the government was still reluctant to prioritise the health sector and that it would take a while and some convincing for that to happen.
“In Kenya, for example, the medical intern gets paid more than a doctor employed by the government here, something our government should be embarrassed about,” added Nakato.
Nakato asked the development partners to continue providing support to the health sector until Parliament is able to convince the central government to increase funding to the health sector.