By Grace Kobusingye
Government should increase funding to the Health Sector for Quality Services. The African Charter on Human Rights confirms that every individual has the right to enjoy the highest attainable state of physical and mental health.
That theat, State parties (signatories to the Charter) shall take the necessary steps to protect their citizens by ensuring that they receive medical care when sick. This confirmation, however, assumes that all individuals have access to quality health care services.
The National Budget for FY 2013/14 offered massive budget allocations to the works and transport sector projected to increase by 45.1% in nominal terms, with the sector’s share increasing from 15.1% in FY2012/13 to 18.9% emerging the highest of any sector and leaving the health investments starved of funding.
The increasing levels of budget indiscipline remain a concern to the public where particular Government agencies habitually submit supplementary budgets for parliamentary approval during the course of a Financial Year (FY).
For instance, in FY 2012/2013, State House requested for a supplementary budget worth138bn on top of the 66.1bn which was approved and was more than twice the amount allocated to Mulago hospital (61.37bn) in the same FY.
Such supplementary budgets, continue to benefit non-productive sectors and subject the budget to implementation inefficiencies, mismanagement of funds, and undermines budget credibility and the spirit of budget consultation processes.
In the current FY, the budget allocation to the health sector was reduced to 7.4% from 7.8% in FY 2012/13. This is far below the Abuja Declaration target of 15%.
The mearge allocation to the health sector has contributed to the poor state of health facilities portraying Government’s attitude towards health provision thus undermining the conditions of the Abuja Declaration, it was aimed to spur Government to improve the condition of health facilities, provide essential equipment and motivate health personnel to meet citizens’ health needs.
When the disease rate is high in a community, chances are high that poverty eradication is defeated because it causes high absenteeism in engaging in economic activities and productivity is low.
Poor health causes misery, discomfort and even death, for this end, a healthy population is less expensive to maintain and contributes more to the growth and development of a country.
In order to reverse the current situation, the Government needs to carry out repairs on the existing basic infrastructure, regular maintenance of medical equipment and recruit medical staff across the country.
This would be to ensure a functional primary health care network aimed at extending quality health service delivery closer to the ever growing population.
Priority should, therefore, be given to health facilities in hard-to-reach areas which are always the most affected yet are closer the people.
A report by the Parliamentary Committee on Health on the Ministerial Policy Statement for the health sector for FY 2012/2013 indicated that the major challenges within the sector revolves around poor remuneration and inadequate motivation of health workers.
That, the absence of adequate motivation has resulted into poor attraction of doctors and midwives to public hospitals and the situation is worse in rural hospitals. Without addressing the issue of health workers, whatever investment is made in the health sector will not yield the expected results.
I strongly concur with this especially when some health workers in Government health facilities (in particular at HC IVs and HCIIIs) are said to treat patients after a “tip”.
This, therefore, indicates that health workers’ remuneration needs to be increased across the country to motivate them, otherwise they will either move to other jobs, travel to other countries to search for “greener pastures”, open private clinics which are expensive for a greater part of the population etc at the expense of the populations’ health status.
Government’s allocation to the health sector is not adequate enough to yield quality health services to the citizens of Uganda which leaves a lot to be desired.
The writer works with Uganda Debt Network