News / Africa

Uganda's Parliament Threatens to Block Budget Over Health Funding

A health worker administers immunization to a displaced child at Nyakabande refugee transit camp in Kisoro town, 521 kilometers southwest of Uganda's capital Kampala, July 13, 2012.A health worker administers immunization to a displaced child at Nyakabande refugee transit camp in Kisoro town, 521 kilometers southwest of Uganda's capital Kampala, July 13, 2012.
x
A health worker administers immunization to a displaced child at Nyakabande refugee transit camp in Kisoro town, 521 kilometers southwest of Uganda's capital Kampala, July 13, 2012.
A health worker administers immunization to a displaced child at Nyakabande refugee transit camp in Kisoro town, 521 kilometers southwest of Uganda's capital Kampala, July 13, 2012.
Andrew Green
KAMPALA, Uganda — Members of parliament say they will block the passage of Uganda’s budget unless there is a substantial increase in funding for health care. With the budget debate scheduled to open this week, parliamentarians called on the government to do more to address what they say is a health emergency.
 
In Uganda, there are fewer than two health workers for every 1,000 people - a level the World Health Organization defines as a severe shortage.
 
Uganda’s social services committee, which has initial oversight of the country’s health budget, pushed a resolution through parliament last week threatening to hold up approval of the entire budget unless funding to recruit and retain new health workers is increased.
 
Committee members, with support from the Women's Parliamentary Association, called for a specific increase of at least $103 million to the sector.  

Rosemary Nyakikongoro, a parliamentarian and vice chairperson of the association, said that would be enough money to fill more than half of the positions for doctors, nurses and midwives at government health centers.
 
Until the money is forthcoming, she said, parliamentarians are prepared to hold up voting on the budget.
 
“Our health sector is lagging behind, especially in terms of health personnel. We have limited human resources," said Nyakikongoro. "For that matter, as parliament, we are not going to pass this budget - not the health sector budget, but the entire budget - until government recommits itself to increasing the health sector budget by 260 billion shillings [$103 million].”
 
In addition to the funding increase, the parliamentarians are calling for an end to a wage freeze for current employees and a ban on recruiting new health workers. They also are demanding a supplementary pool of money to improve health care in communities that are particularly short staffed.
 
“All members of parliament are concerned, even in their districts where they come from, all health centers have less than 50 percent staffing," said Nyakikongoro. "We all want to see all our health facilities well facilitated in terms of personnel.”
 
Nyakikongoro said government officials from the Ministry of Finance have not responded to the parliamentarians’ resolution.
 
The current draft budget allocates $307.5 million to the health sector - around 7 percent of the total budget. Even before the budget was officially introduced, Ministry of Health officials had acknowledged there would not be enough money to fill health worker gaps.
 
Without more doctors, nurses and midwives, though, activists say the country’s health indicators will continue to deteriorate. They pointed specifically to an increase in Uganda’s HIV prevalence rate from 6.4 percent in 2005 to 7.3 percent last year.
 
Mable Kukunda, a program officer with Uganda National Health Consumers’ Organization, applauded the parliamentarians’ move.

“We think that with the current crisis of health workers that is in the country, we think that is the right move that parliament has done,” said Kukunda.

Following all of the committee reports, the budget is scheduled to move to the entire parliament for debate this week. It is traditionally passed by the middle of September.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid