Dr. Bukenya says that the funds will mitigate the dangers posed by the pandemic in 2021/2022 financial year. He also noted that the failure to integrate COVID-19 in the routine health services has the potential of breaking down the health system, which is very difficult to resuscitate.
The Health Committee
of parliament has recommended for the allocation of Shillings 173billion
towards mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on the health sector. The Committee
chairperson, Dr. Michael Bukenya notes that the outbreak of COVID-19 exerted
pressure on an already challenged system with problems in staffing,
infrastructure and equipment.
He was presenting
his committee report on the health sector Budget Framework paper for the
2021/2022 financial year to the Budget Committee of Parliament in a meeting
chaired by the Vice-Chairperson and Kachumbali County MP, Patrick Isiagi on
Thursday. He further notes that the pandemic disrupted essential health
services such as immunization, maternal and child health care and HIV/AIDS/TB.
says that the funds will mitigate the dangers posed by the pandemic in 2021/2022
financial year. He also noted that the failure to integrate COVID-19 in the
routine health services has the potential of breaking down the health system,
which is very difficult to resuscitate. It has been noted that supplies
of PPE, or personal protective equipment, such as gloves, face masks, face
shields, aprons and others are insufficient or are lacking in most hospitals.
The committee’s recommendation also comes amidst news of the lack of functional ICU
facilities at many regional referral hospitals. The capacity gap upcountry has
meant the burden of treating critically-ill Covid-19 patients is piled on
health facilities in Kampala including Mulago National Referral Hospital.
An ICU comprises a bed, a patient monitor, a mechanical ventilator, a suction
machine, critical care nurses, an anesthesiologist and physicians. ICU requires
to be staffed round-the-clock with intensivists, anaesthesiologists, critical
care nurses and physicians, according to Dr. Henry Mwebesa, the Director-General of Health Services. Dr. Bukenya also stresses that all funds donated
towards fighting COVID-19 have to be appropriated by Parliament.
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This was one of the 13 key outputs he noted is critical to the delivery of
NDPIII interventions that in total have a funding gap of 355bn Shillings. The
proposed budget for the sector for the 2021/2022 financial year amounts to
Shillings 2.522.88 trillion, which translates into a decrease of 258.29bn Shillings
from the current financial year.
The other critical funding gaps noted by the committee include Shillings 21bn needed
to improve the functionality of Kawempe, Kiruddu and Entebbe referral
hospitals. Dr. Bukenya says only Shillings 14.12bn of the required Shillings 35.12bn
has been provided and yet the funds are needed to improve the functionality of
the health system to deliver quality and affordable preventive, promotive,
curative and palliative health care services.
The health committee has also recommended for the allocation of an additional Shillings
5.71bn towards the Uganda Blood Transfusion Services. Dr. Bukenya notes that
only Shillings 7.08bn has been provided and yet the agency requires Shillings 12.79bn
in order to increase access and availability of blood.
The committee stresses the need to establish an Emergency Medical Service and
National Ambulance system, which has a funding gap of Shillings 26.88bn for the
first phase of the programme.
The committee notes that establishing the EMS
will be done in a phased manner over a period of three years and will
constitute 14 regional call and dispatch centers across the country, 350
ambulances, non-rotational staffing of emergency units at Medical Officer
Special Grade, Medical Officer and emergency medical trainee, four call center
staff per region, pre-hospital coordinators, professional ambulance staff and
The Tororo South MP, Fredrick Angura raised concern on whether funds had been
allocated for the upgrading of Malaba health center III to a health center IV.
Angura’s concern was in relation to a revelation by Dr. Bukenya who noted that
since 2018 government has embarked on the phased upgrade of Health Center IIs
to HCIII and HCIIIs to HCIV.
The upgrade of the first batch of 124 health centers for the
FY 2018/19 only 118 was completed, for the second batch of 64 for FY 2019/20
only 40 were completed. The third batch of 62 for FY 2020/21 construction has
not started. The slow pace was attributed to among others delays in disbursement of funds
and laxity by accounting officers and project managers to commence procurement
processes and contract signing.
The health committee recommends that by the end of February 2021, the ministry
of health should submit to parliament strategies to address delays in
construction and fast-track completion of upgrades. The committee has also recommended for the allocation of an additional Shillings
23bn towards the rehabilitation of General Hospitals.
The report notes that
some of the hospitals were constructed a long time ago and are in dire need of
renovations since their infrastructure has broken down. Of the required 36.13bn
shillings only 13.13bn has been allocated.