dialogue health 1

The chief of Child Survival and Development at UNICEF in Kampala, Dr.Viorica Berdaga says that Uganda spends $36 per capita per annum on health which is way below the desired WHO standard of $84 per capita per annually.

This was during a half day national budget dialogue jointly organized by UNICEF and the Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) on Thursday February 20, 2020 under the theme “Sustainability of financing for essential health services”. The dialogue took place at Golf Course Hotel, Kampala. Dr. Berdaga who was a panelist also noted that Uganda’s budget for 2020/21 does not emphasize the importance of nutrition besides other unfunded priorities. The IMF Resident representative to Uganda Ms. Clara Mira, opined that the idea of investing in infrastructure is welcome but also investing in human capital is very important.

The ideas followed a presentation by the EPRC’s Director Research (DR) Dr. Ibrahim Kasirye  titled “Investing in the Health Sector in FY 2020/2021” which indicated that in the Health sector accounts for 5.1% of the National budget in FY 2020/21 down from 7.9% in FY 2019/2020. Dr. Kasirye said in the presentation that the large reduction is due to the projected 90% decline in the level of on budget external financing to the sector—from UGX 1,119 Billion to UGX 100 Billion. “The development share of the sector budget will be 17.2% of total allocation, down from 43% in FY19/20,” he stated.

Ms. Clara Mira argued that there are other means of financing health sector beside domestic mobilization of resources, such as partners willing to come on board and support. Mr. Kenneth Mugambe the director budget a Uganda’s Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (MFPED) said 75% of Ugandans are under the age of 35. “There is need to invest in the health and education sectors and the government is putting emphasis on infrastructural development including construction of more health centers and new facilities”.Mugambe 2

At the same dialogue, Dr. Timothy Musila a senior Health planner from the Ministry of Health argued that Uganda must invest in health not health care, by ensuring Ugandans stay healthy. We need Invest in ensuring places like slums have functional services, he stressed. Dr. Musila also noted that there is need for efficiency in the health system across the entire supply value chain, as well as tracking the utilization of budget resources allocated to the sector. A participant at the dialogue tasked the Finance officials to explain the failure to absorb the meagre resources allocated and what happens to the funds returned to the consolidated fund.

Mr. Mugambe urged EPRC and the social services sector activists to interest themselves beyond financing arguing that there are times when resources are not absorbed yet they are available, for instance money has been provided for recruitment of health workers for a long time. Members also observed that there is lack of a system for tracking of budget commitments which has adversely impacted the delivery of health services through poor project implementation in the sector.

Earlier, Dr. Kasirye said in his key presentation there is  need to increase funding for pharmaceutical supplies, strengthen referral systems to ensure better health care delivery in promote areas across the country. The proposed 2020/21 Budget has now increased to Ushs42trillion. The approved National Budget Framework Paper proposed a budget of Ushs40trillion but there were several unfunded items, he added.

The theme of the dialogue was partly guided by the vision embedded in the new national development plan (NDP-III) which targets to achieve universal health coverage through expanding access to health care services to lower local government levels, whilst increasing access to affordable medicine and health supplies.

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