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Human capital development is key to economic transformation

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Added 3rd July 2018 02:11 PM

The poor work conditions of doctors and health workers coupled with inadequate and sometimes no resources at all affect their performance output, which in turn negatively impacts on service delivery outcomes.

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The poor work conditions of doctors and health workers coupled with inadequate and sometimes no resources at all affect their performance output, which in turn negatively impacts on service delivery outcomes.

HUMAN CAPITAL DEVELOPMENT

 

By Frank Shema

A country’s development is as good as its healthcare system. This is true because a healthy population is the greatest resource a country has to drive it to development.

It is, therefore, no wonder that its growing importance has seen health placed higher on the international development agenda.

Indeed, good government development Policies and Plans must focus on the quality of health of their people since they are the key implementers of such plans. Uganda’s second National Development Plan (NDP), 2015/16 – 2019/20 recognises this and goes on to emphasize that infrastructure and human capital development are fundamental enablers for socio-economic transformation of the country.

The NDP II underscores the urgent need for strategic investment in the country’s human resource to turn it into the much needed human capital that will drive the planned growth and transformation. For that reason, the population must be healthy, educated and properly skilled.

The UNDP Human Development Report, 2016 ranked Uganda 163 out of 188 countries which was in the low human development category. According to the Ministry of Health Annual Health Sector Performance Report for FY 2016/17, the number of health workers per 1,000 population in Uganda is still far below the WHO threshold of 2.3 doctors, nurses and midwives per 1,000 population.  In 2016/17 FY the ratio of doctors, nurses and midwives to the population was 1: 28,202; 1: 2,121 and 1: 6,838 respectively.

To compound the situation, there is increasing number of refugees and internally displaced persons estimated at 1,026,043 by the UNHCR in their Uganda Flash Update on South Sudan emergency response, March 2017. This has further constrained the already ailing sector. 

The above notwithstanding, the health sector was allocated sh2.8 trillion out of the total 32.4 trillion in the FY 2018/19 national budget to work towards improving the health of Uganda’s human resource.

It is ironic that the country’s legal regime, including the Policies and Strategic Plans are in sharp contrast with the situation on the ground.

As an example, Pader district has been operating without a hospital for the last 17 years according to Anna Apio the Acting District Health Officer. Other districts without hospitals include Agago, Lamwo, Amuru, Omoro and Buliisa. 

In May 2018 a nasty road accident involving a gaga bus left over 30 people seriously injured and these were rushed to the nearest hospital in Kiryandongo. The hospital however had run out of supplies and raised a red flag calling for emergency supply of drugs and sundries that had been depleted following the emergency services rendered. 

Twenty two people were later confirmed dead, some of whom would have probably survived had the hospital been well equipped. 

The failure to employ and retain medical doctors and the unequal distribution of the few existing ones has led to a shortage of quality health workforce in Uganda leaving the majority population especially the poor and disadvantaged to seek health care from non-qualified providers who apply rudimentary methods and often with dire consequences like permanent disability and death.

The poor work conditions of doctors and health workers coupled with inadequate and sometimes no resources at all affect their performance output, which in turn negatively impacts on service delivery outcomes.

The mismatch between the plans and implementation for the Ugandan health sector requires the urgent attention of all stakeholders, including the government and citizens who must identify the root cause of the problem and change strategy if necessary. Unless this is done, the sector will continue to suffer to the detriment of our potential human resource and ultimately, the economic development of the country.

The writer works with Uganda Debt Network.


 

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