The health sector will not suffer budget cuts, Uganda’s development partners have reiterated.
In a meeting with the Committee on Health, the partners including the World Health Organisation (WHO), USAID, Clinton Health Care Initiative and UK AID told the legislators that despite the challenges in funding created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the group of international bodies will stay the course.
The assurance was in response to concerns raised by Members of Parliament during their meeting on Thursday, 10 February 2022 at Parliament that the partners were likely to withdraw or heavily reduce financial support to the health sector.
Andrew Kyambadde from USAID said that they had entered into an agreement with the finance ministry this year, like it does on annual basis, to meet certain funding gaps and that there was no plan to hold back funding.
However, he said, “We put emphasis on domestic funding, a matter that has been standing. The country should be prepared meet and growing its funding expectations of the health sector,” adding that donors will not always come through due to many unforeseen circumstances.
Christabel Abewe, the WHO Health Economist, noted that plans to reduce or cut funding are communicated in advance from the partners and follows a chain of bureaucracy.
She added that there is a process followed to establish the readiness of the sector to transform to self-sustainability. “The key funding projects have to be assessed to establish if they can survive on their own without support, which in this case, has not yet been achieved,” she said.
Abewe added, “Key areas like malaria, immunisation and HIV/AIDS get almost 90 per cent of their funding from the partners so pulling would detrimental to the sector.”
The committee chairperson, Dr Charles Ayume, responded saying that much as the Government is expected to bump up its contribution to the sector, it is doing its best using the resources it has to fund the sector.
“We ask you to bear with us because we have to stretch our funds to aspects of the health sector to achieve simultaneous progress; we cannot increase equipment without human resources so the transition is gradual,” he added.
The Vice Chairperson, Hon Yoweri Ssebikaali, said he was glad the partners would not cut funding because the health sector had been further constrained by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ssebikaaii requested the health partners to find a solution for medical care access especially amongst the rural population since the National Health Insurance plan seemed to be a non- starter.
In response, Abewe said that they are reworking the National Health Insurance Bill with all stakeholders before it is brought back to Parliament.