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Experts call for increased financing in the health sector

By Cecilia Okoth

Added 21st September 2019 06:10 PM

Finance Minister Matia Kasaija says despite the increased health sector budget over the years, it still faces challenges that he said must be decisively addressed.

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France Ambassador, Jules Armand (left) interacts with Finance, Planning and Economic Development minister, Matia Kasaija (right) during the Uganda Health Financing dialogue at Protea Hotel, Kampala. Photo by Juliet Kasirye

Finance Minister Matia Kasaija says despite the increased health sector budget over the years, it still faces challenges that he said must be decisively addressed.

HEALTH

KAMPALA - As donor funds for the health sector continue to shrink, experts have advised that there be deliberate commitments by other sectors to finance the health sector’s already constrained budget.

Finance Minister Matia Kasaija says despite the increased health sector budget over the years, it still faces challenges that he said must be decisively addressed to improve the sector outcomes.

The health sector budget has gradually improved from sh1.27b in the financial year 2015/16 to sh2.59b in 2019/2020, representing an increase of sh1.3b which translates into a 104% increase.

“However we still have a challenge of high Malaria incidence, malnutrition resulting into stunted growth among children below five years and low latrine coverage,” Kasaija said on Thursday while addressing a half-day seminar on health sector financing at Protea Hotel.

Other challenges that the minister highlighted and need to be tackled include; high adolescent pregnancy rates, low staffing levels especially at the lower health facilities coupled with high levels of absenteeism, drug stockouts arising from poor planning and budget constraints, among others.

However, reading a presentation of agreed actions from the meeting, Richard Kabagambe, the assistant commissioner budget and finance in the Planning department said increased collaboration in sectors like transport and education will help address pertinent issues including road accidents, high school dropout rates due to teenage pregnancy, among others.

The meeting under the theme, “Towards Innovative Domestic Financing”, follows a study that was undertaken with the support from the Global Fund that aimed at identifying prospects and advocate for opportunities for sustainable health financing.

One of the key deliverables of the seminar was to identify the role of the private sector as well as development partners towards sustainable health financing.

Making a presentation on domestic and innovative financing, Prof Vinand Nantulya the board chair of the One Dollar Initiative said the One Dollar Initiative, which is a purely private sector initiative meant to generate local funds to fight HIV/AIDS is one way to support domestic health financing.

“We have so far collected sh930m in cash and pledges which we intend to invest in fixed deposits, treasury bills and bonds,” he said 

Jacques Le Pape, the Global Fund Chief Finance Officer called for the need to raise domestic resources for the health sector, saying investing in health is a contribution to growth.

He said whereas the Global Fund has mobilized $46b globally, for the period 2021 to 2023, this will not be enough hence the need for domestic resource mobilization.

Reaffirming Government’s commitment towards providing resources for sustainable funding, Kasaija said deliberate efforts have been made to finance the health sector with additional funding provided for the financial year 2019/2020.

He said sh89.7bn has been allocated to cater for ARVs, immunisation supplies as well as reproductive health supplies; sh26b for adequate staffing and operational costs for the upgraded health facilities and sh56b provided as a Government component for infrastructure development.

He, however, expressed disappointment with the absence of the health ministers and permanent secretary at the meeting.

“We are here to address a key sector but I do not see the ministers or members of parliament in the health committee. This shows that we have misplaced our emphasis,” Kasaija noted.

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