Monday, August 2, 2010

The health of Ugandans should be priority

Ugandans will continue suffering poor health because NRM priorities are upside down. The other day Dr. Badru Kiggundu of Electoral Commission told us that he needed shs 500m per new district! The creation of new districts is one of the legacies that will haunt the NRM leaders when they live office. It is unfortunate that Government is getting alot of money from people through taxation, but this money much of it goes to consumption, hence the welfare of the people highly taxed is at a disadvantage. We shall remain testifying that even in the time of the Late Idi Amin,one could get free medication.The NRM is simplyabigdisappointment which unfortunately the innocent people of Uganda may have to bear with for sometime if leaders in the opposition don't come up with acceptable strategies that can lead to victory and sustaining power, not forgetting learning not to re

Tight health budget sparks drugs alarm
By Yasiin Mugerwa
Posted Tuesday, August 3 2010 at 00:00
A critical shortage of essential drugs in the country will put thousands of lives of Ugandans at risk after the Ministry of Health said lack of funds is set to constrain its operations this financial year.
Faced with a reduced budget, Health Minister Stephen Mallinga, yesterday unveiled a tight spending plan highlighting essential drugs among the unfunded priorities. While presenting a policy statement to Parliament, Dr Mallinga said although the ministry is expected to spend Shs201.7 billion on medicines and medical supplies; this financial year, there is a shortage of Shs6.7b for essential drugs. Other shortages include Shs4 billion for the Cancer Institute, Shs6 billion for medical equipment, Shs1.2b for rehabilitation of 41 hospitals and Shs8.4 billion for water and electricity in hospitals.
In May, Daily Monitor reported that the health budget had been cut from Shs743.1 billion in 2009/10 budget to Shs638.3 billion - leaving the country with 9.7 per cent of the total budget contrary to African Union Abuja Declaration, which stipulates that governments should allocate at least 15 per cent of their national budgets towards health.
The cuts have left Health Ministry officials and lawmakers with a nightmare of trying to mitigate the likely negative impact of running short of drugs and other supplies. “As a committee, we are concerned about the cuts in health spending this year,” Social Service Committee Chairperson Dr Steven Asiimwe (Ntoroko) said.
“We were told that there is an upcoming World Bank loan for maternal health estimated at $100 million (about Shs200b), but this has not yet materialised.” Dr Mallinga said out of Shs201.7 billion, Shs140 billion is for HIV/Aids and malaria treatment. He said the required funds will be needed to buy 250,000 blood bags, facilitate 180 heart operations and recruit 800 health workers with an additional Shs155.5b deficit for payment of medical workers.
Another Shs7 billion will be required for the prevention, control and mitigation of epidemics and other public health emergencies in the country. In spite of supplementary funding of Shs90b from the Global Fund to fight HIV/Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, a deficit of more than Shs100 billion remains in the health budget this year.
Cancer patients’ dilemma
Under the unfunded priorities, Dr Mallinga has said, the budget for cancer (Shs4.1 billion) covers only six per cent of the required amount. The average unit cost of treating a cancer patient is Shs2.1 million which translates to Shs8.7 billion for cancer treatment alone. Shs30 billion is needed for infrastructure expansion, Shs10 billion for research and Shs6 billion for cancer services to spread all over the country.

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