Tuesday, September 18, 2012


The hypocrisy of our leaders is unfortunate. Uganda is able to waster tax payer monies on foreign missions defending other countries meanwhile Ugandans die in thousands over ailments that are treatable but the NRM Government has simply ignored its priorities. The best Museveni can do for the good of the country is to park up and go. Surely, his missions have cost the country a lot of money and poverty is the order of the day. I always feel sorry for Uganda. William Kituuka Kiwanuka ------------------------------------------------------------------- MUSEVENI TURNS NRM MPs AROUND ON HEALTH BUDGET By Sheila Naturinda Posted Tuesday, September 18 2012 at 11:05 Ruling party members of Parliament last night made a u-turn, and agreed with President Museveni that health matters aren’t a priority now. Members who attended a party caucus held between 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. reveal to this newspaper that President Museveni first stormed out of the meeting in protest because members had denied him a chance to defend his stand on no more money for health. “When he stormed out he looked very annoyed and all of us were in shock not knowing what to do next, as we discussed leaving, he returned and asked that we now hold sober discussions,” an MP who attended the meeting said. The meeting later had concluded that Health Committee chairman Dr Sam Lyomoki, together with Chief Whip Justine Lumumba and Premier Amama Mbabazi should write a paper on national health concerns which would be considered during the drafting of next year’s budget. Debate returns to the whole House today afternoon, and it’s not clear what reaction the Opposition will have when they learn of their colleagues’ betrayal. Last week, the House was so unanimous that Shs260 billion be found for the health sector or else they will withhold approval of the budget. Scores of NRM MPs yesterday told this newspaper as they travelled to State House that they would defy whatever reasons the head of state would give them to deny the population better health services. “How do you provide security to trees and animals when all the people have died? We shall not accept and we expect government to provide that money as soon as possible,” said Yumbe woman MP Aleru Huda, who is also chair of the Parliamentary Forum on Immunisation. Others questioned the priorities of this government because of the number of deaths registered across the country due to the desperately poor national health services. Sources said President Museveni said he couldn’t sacrifice the defence budget for anything. Debate over the state of healthcare took centre stage yesterday as Parliament continued discussions on the 2012/13 budget amid disagreements with the Executive over budget cuts to raise Shs260 billion needed to recruit and motivate health workers. Mr Mbabazi has until now steadfastly rejected the House Budget Committee proposal to cut Shs15 billion from the defence budget and divert it to the health sector. He also opposed a plan to cut Shs3 billion from the Electoral Commission and Uganda Bureau of Statistics, arguing that the two agencies are statutory institutions with constitutional duties. Civil society organisations are meanwhile expected today afternoon to gather in the House and try to and pile more pressure on government and Parliament to reach a deal on the Shs260 billion. Whichever way the debate will take, given the NRM numerical strength, it’s unlikely that the health budget will get a single increment. snaturinda@ug.nationmedia.com ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- GOVERNMENT SPENDS SHS 380BILLION ON OFFICIALS' TREATMENT ABROAD By ISMAIL MUSA LADU Posted Tuesday, April 24 2012 at 00:00 Every year government spends at least $150 million (about Shs377 billion) on treatment of mostly top government officials abroad, a cost President Museveni wants brought down by restricting the privilege to a few selected severe cases. A leaked report from last December’s ministerial retreat which was convened to assess the government’s performance in the previous year reveals a renewed attempt by the country’s leader to sort out Uganda’s severely stressed health sector. “The President stressed the need to curb the high numbers of patients seeking specialised health treatment abroad which was costing the country about $150 million annually,” the report compiled by the Office of the Prime Minister said. That figure is almost equal to the Shs397.31 billion donors contribute towards the country’s Shs985.5 billion health budget. Mr Museveni is quoted as having also directed that “pay for scientists including medical doctors should not just be prioritised but increased.” Ministry of Health permanent secretary Asuman Lukwago agreed that the expenditure on treatment abroad, which he referred to as “estimation”, was not necessary although it is up to a patient to decide where to be treated. “The question is: do we have the ability to treat most of these cases here? Yes we do,” said the PS, before adding that “the challenge is to convince government officials that they do not need to travel abroad because we can do it here”. According to the PS, with the ongoing efforts to rejuvenate health facilities, including upgrading all referral hospitals, the Shs377 billion spent on treatment abroad could be reduced. Efforts to get a comment from the country’s Medical Board, which is charged with the responsibility of recommending individuals for State-sponsored treatment abroad, were futile. The fact that treatment abroad costs nearly half of the entire budgets of two key ministries—health and education – exposes the government in terms of its priorities, according to observers. “That amount of money is just enough to have the necessary facilities needed to attend to all these treated abroad,” Makerere University economics lecturer Augustus Nuwagaba, said in an interview yesterday. He said: “That amount of money can help in better health delivery and at the same time stop capital outflow, something that largely contributes in weakening our Shilling.” Prof. Nuwagaba argued that the country’s problem is not lack of medical practitioners but poor pay. “Almost half of the 40,000 Ugandan professionals in North America are health personnel, this means our problem is not the human resource,” he said. Daily Monitor’s efforts to corroborate the suggestion that Shs377 billion would be enough to appropriately upgrade local health infrastructure so as to stop the preference for treatment outside was, however, not immediately possible. Dr Byarugaba Baterana, the executive director at the National Referral Hospital Mulago and Dr Tom Mwambu, the deputy director at the Uganda Heart Institute, said they could not make an offhand estimation when reached for comment. The meeting of the top government officials also discussed supplementary requests, emphasising its negative impact on budget execution and performance. But instead of curbing it they proposed the creation of a contingency Fund from which government would draw anytime.

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