According to the budget estimates for the 2016/17 financial year, sh1.8 trillion will be allocated to the health sector.
Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG) and Africa Health Budget Network have launched a campaign aimed at ensuring that government and parliament allocate sh36 billion in the forthcoming budget for recruitment of 3542 health workers to fill the glaring staffing gaps in the country’s health sector.
The campaign was launched on Friday (18 March) during a pre-budget dialogue involving civil society groups and other stakeholders including farmers to generate consensus on important issues which should be prioritised in the 2016/17 budget.
Phiona Kwikiriza from CSBAG said, ‘The National budget framework paper shows that there is a shortfall of 3542 health workers across the country and that this is one of the unfunded priorities in 2016/17 budget. We ask government to provide sh36 billion needed to recruit them to save the lives of Ugandans.’
Carol Namagembe from the same group said, ‘Health is wealth. Funding for recruitment of more health workers is a sound investment for our population and our economy. We demand that government values our voice and values our health.’
After the state Minister for Finance Fred Omach had signed the pledge card for the campaign, he promised he would present the demand to cabinet for consideration.
According to the budget estimates for the 2016/17 financial year which the Finance Ministry tabled before parliament last week, out of a total budget of sh21.2trillion, sh1.8 trillion will be allocated to the health sector.
The above information implies that the Uganda government will be allocating only 8.45% of its national budget to the health sector which is still way below the minimum of 15% which African governments were committed to in the Abuja protocol.
The CSBAG coordinator Julius Mukundane said they would soon take their campaign to parliament to present their views before parliament passes the budget on 28 April 2016.
Other budget measures CSBAG proposed included the need to increase funding for agriculture which is the backbone of the country’s economy, radical reforms to reduce the cost of public administration, the need to fast track clearance of pension arrears, the need to increase funding for local governments from the current 17% to 30% of the national budget, and reviewing and harmonising salaries of public servants.
The director for budget in the Ministry of Finance Kenneth Mugambe clarified that sh20 billion has been provided in the next budget to cater for the recruitment of more health workers.
On the pension arrears, Mugambe said whereas the bill for pension arrears is bout sh200 billion, government plans to allocate to clear pension arrears.
Dismissing reports from non-teaching staff of public universities who in the course of this week laid down their tools, Mugambe said government has earmarked sh212 billion to enhance salaries for primary and secondary teachers and university lecturers as well as non-teaching staff of public universities.
Speaking at the same dialogue, the State Minister for finance Fred Omach assured the participants that government will significantly increase the budget for agriculture from sh484.6 billion in the current budget to sh824.2 billion in the next budget.
Asked why the proposed budget for agriculture is below the sh1000 billion President Yoweri Museveni promised to allocate to NAADS in the forthcoming financial year, Omach said, ‘The sh1000 billion for NAADS which the president promised was meant for the next five years not one year.’
Written by Moses Mulondo. This story was sourced from the New Vision website.