The health budget has been reduced from sh1.85 trillion to 1.7 trillion.
PIC: Ntambi said the economic status should not be a requirement to access the best education.(Credit: Geoffrey Mutegeki)
The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), has decried the cutting of the health budget sector for the financial year 2018/19. The budget has been reduced by sh136.6 b from sh1.85 trillion to 1.7 trillion amid the health challenges faced by the country.
Sylvia Ntambi, the EOC chairperson, said the budget is being cut at a time when over 59 districts do not have general hospitals and 29 constituencies do not have health centre IV’s. She said 93 sub-counties do not have any government health facility and only 225 have a health centre II.
“When it comes to treatment, a Ugandan should not lose life because they cannot afford prescribed medicine or prescribed medicine is not among the essential medicines,” Ntambi said.
She made the remarks during the commission’s briefing to the finance ministry on the assessment findings on the compliance of sector budget framework papers with gender and equity requirements for the financial year 2018/2019.
The commission assessed a total of 17 sector budget framework papers with emphasis on establishing the compliance with gender and equity requirements for the financial year 2018/19.
“Every Ugandan is a shareholder of this land. Therefore, gender and equity planning and budgeting is a strategy to build a generous Uganda, where all Ugandans can be subjected to equal chances,” Ntambi said.
Regarding education, the commission called for the revisiting of some of the concerns such as access to best education by the poor, orphans and persons with disabilities.
“Best education has turned out to be for those in a better economic class. Economic status should not be a requirement to access best education. We want to see orphans, the poor learners in hard-to-reach areas accessing the best education in their respective locations,” Ntambi said.
The education sector compliance has improved from 64% in 2017/2018 to 71% in 2018/2017.
The works and transport sector compliance level for the 2018/2019 has increased to 59% from 50% in 2017/2018.
However, the sector still has challenges that need to be addressed in order for Ugandans to be served equally.
Ntambi highlighted the lack of ferries in services in Buvuma and Kalangala islands, where Buvuma has 57 islands. She said only one island is accessible by ferry Kalangala with 87 islands of which over 60 are habitable, but only one is habitable by ferry.
Bahati said the Government is concentrating on making health centre III’s and IV’s more functional
Responding to the commission, David Bahati, the state minister of finance in charge of planning, said the reduction in the health budget is not necessarily about reduction, but there are some projects which were in the previous budget and have been exited.
“So when the budget reduces, some people misrepresent it as being done on purpose. It is not true; we reduce the budget because some of the projects in the previous budget have been finished,” Bahati said.
He noted that the Government is concentrating on making health centre III’s and IV’s more functional and later look at health centre II’s.
“We want to equip health centre III’s and IV’s to the standards with the required staffing so that they can serve people better before we can think of health centre II’s,” Bahati said.
Generally, out of the 17 sectors that were assessed, seven passed marginally in a range of 50-59 four sectors scored 60-69%, while five sectors scored 70 and above. Science, technology and the innovation sector scored below the pass mark.
The overall national compliance to gender and equity requirements from the financial year 2018/19 was 61% compared to 60% in the financial year 2017/18.