Civil society asks parliament to increase health budget

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The Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG) has petitioned parliament to ensure that the budget for the health sector is increased in the 2015/2016 budget to revamp the health sector.

According to the 2015/2016 budget framework paper, government proposes to reduce the health sector budget from 1.2trillions (9%) to 963.7b (7%). 

CSBAG was represented by David Walakira, Diana Tibesigwa and Moses Odongo, who presented their petition yesterday to the parliament health committee urging MPs to use their constitutional appropriation powers for a people-centered budget which prioritizes the lives of Ugandans.

The Budget Act and Public Finance Management Act give parliament appropriation powers to adjust the budget proposed by government.

Presenting the statement on behalf of her colleagues, Diana Tibesigwa said, “We note with concern the lack of increased commitment by government to fund the health development budget meaning that health centres and hospitals in dire need of new wards, medical equipment and sanitation facilities might need to wait. Some districts still need new health centres.”

Basing on the analysis of the 2015/2016 budget framework paper/draft budget and the ministry of health ministerial policy statement, CSBAG observed with regret that the recurrent/administrative budget for the sector is increasing while the development is declining.

“For a country which still needs more hospitals, health centres and appropriate medical equipment, a budget like this one is not strategically set to serve the citizens. We fear that our people will have to die of avoidable causes,” Tibesigwa lamented.

The group observed with concern that the budget for the National Medical Stores has not been increased from the sh218.6b allocated to it last year yet the population and the commodity prices have increased.

CSBAG further observed with regret that government has no plan for recruitment of more health workers and increasing their remuneration in the next budget.

“Another major concern is the reduction in the Local Governments’ health allocation by 4.5b yet these are at the forefront of serve delivery. Having their budgets cut implies that the services at the local level will greatly suffer,” Tibesigwa said.

Lira woman MP Joy Atim Ongom said, “As a committee we need to shout and call other committees to join their struggle.

In the Abuja protocol, African governments were required not to allocate less than 15% of their budgets to agriculture and ours is at only 7%. We should not accept this as a country. Life is precious. We need to save the lives of Ugandans.”

Sironko woman MP Femiar Wadada said, “In most of the health centres, the necessary health facilities are not there. The medicine is rarely there. The health workers are not motivated. Our health system is in a crisis. Government needs to give it more priority.”

Shadow minister for health Dr. Michael Lulume Bayiga said, “Of course government will have successfully denied Ugandans sufficient healthcare and I can confidently tell you it will lead to the death of many Ugandans who would not have died.”

The committee chairman Dr. Jeremiah Twatwa Mutwalante said, “The president has been promising that he will construct more health centre IIIs. Where will they get money to do that when they are reducing the budget for the health sector?

The remuneration for health workers and staffing rates for health facilities need to be increased.”

According to the budget framework paper, there are over 19 outlined unfunded health priorities for 2015/2016 some of which include sh129b to enhance salaries for all staff in the sector and sh25b for medical equipment, civil works, furniture and transport for 25 general hospitals excluding those covered under the ongoing projects.

The implementation of Uganda Ambulance Service requires sh40b in the first year of its implementation to procure government ambulances but the money has not been provided.

SOURCE: New Vision, April 15th 2015: http://www.newvision.co.ug/news/667062-civil-society-asks-parliament-to-...