UGANDA –Uganda’s development partners have assured Members of Parliament continued financial support despite the challenges in funding created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The assurance follows concerns by Ugandan legislators that the partners were likely to withdraw or heavily reduce financial support to the health sector.
The partners reaffirming no plans to hold back funding include the World Health Organization (WHO), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Clinton Health Care Initiative and United Kingdom Agency for International Development.
During a meeting with the Ugandan Committee on Health, Andrew Kyambadde from USAID said that they had entered into an annual agreement with the finance ministry to meet certain funding gaps.
“The country should emphasize on domestic funding to meet its funding expectations as donors will not always come through due to many unforeseen circumstances,” stressed Andrew.
The parliamentary committee on Health 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 have to stretch our funds to aspects of the health sector to achieve simultaneous progress since we cannot increase equipment without human resources,” he added.
The health partners were requested 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.
Moreover, the parliamentary committee is reworking the National Health Insurance Bill with all stakeholders before it is brought back to Parliament.
WHO Health Economist Christabel Abewe noted that plans to reduce or cut funding are communicated in advance from the partners and follows a chain of bureaucracy.
Consequently, 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,” Christabel asserted.
She further said that key areas like malaria, immunization and HIV/AIDS get almost 90 per cent of their funding from the partners and retracting funds would be detrimental to the health sector.
Previously, Ministry of Finance sought to trim off UGX113.14 billion (US$31.96m) from the health sector budget to raise additional resources to fund national development projects.
The Committee on Health led by the Chairperson Dr Charles however pushed for a reversal of the decision saying it would affect key interventions.
According to Ayume, the sector has several unfunded and underfunded priorities amounting to UGX1.8 trillion (US$508M).
Some of the affected items include: a funding gap of UGX27 billion (US$7.6M) to procure 100 vehicles for consultants, UGX50 billion (US$14.1M) to rehabilitate dilapidated health facilities, UGX70 billion (US$19.8M) to minimize stockout for essential medicines and health supplies.