KAMPALA —Members of the Civil Society Organizations including Marie Stopes, Partners in Population and Development (PPDARO), Path and other partners have on Monday, December 13 engaged government and Members of Parliament on the health committee to track Uganda’s progress towards the much sought after Universal Access to Health.
Speaking during a breakfast meeting that was also attended by religious leaders and journalists, CSOs also called on government to prioritise funding to the health sector. The meeting took place on Monday, 13 December 2021 at Golf Course Hotel in Kampala.
Ms. Faith Kyateka, the head of communication and policy at Marie Stopes Uganda asked the Members of Parliament on health committee to lobby the central government to fast track the operationalisation of the National Health Insurance Scheme—reasoning that it would help lower the out-of-pocket expenditure on medical care.
Kyateka also requested the MPs to push government to increase its budget allocation to heath for purposes of sustainability especially in light of economic and social shocks created by Covid-19 lockdowns.
“Everyone everywhere deserves access to quality essential health services without suffering financial hardship. If we are to achieve health and well-being for all by 2030, we must prioritize and invest more in health systems,” Kyateka said noting:
“Improving health service coverage and health outcomes depends on the availability, accessibility, and capacity of health and care workers to deliver quality people-centred integrated care”.
“We have witnessed first-hand the disruptions in the provision of health services because of the pandemic therefore despite the competing priorities posed by the current crisis, it is vital to maintain the momentum and investment in health systems to avoid preventable deaths. As we mark, Universal Health Coverage Day, let us stand together as advocates within Uganda and mobilize our leaders to implement the national health insurance bill as a step towards achieving UHC”.
She pointed out that bill is a moral and smart investment that can no longer wait.
Sheikh Muhammad Ali Waiswa, the 2nd Deputy Mufti at Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) who represented religious leaders said that it’s very vital for putting in place a national insurance scheme to provide a welfare for all people.
“We experience alot of burden for people who come seeking for help and also sourcing for this help isn’t an easy thing that it can’t be provided for all. Therefore if it’s done nationally, it would be easier that each particular person will be able to be provided for with health care and provideed with a nursery help,” Sheikh Waiswa told the media.
He said that religious leaders are doing all the best that they can to talk to those in government and Parliament to make them appreciate the idea.
“There’s no was we can be different in the whole region when all other countries are doing the same thing. We can never have development whatever that it is, if we have sick bodies”.
Uganda and South Sudan are the only two countries in the region without a National Health Insurance.
Joel Ssebikaali, the deputy chairperson Parliamentary Health Committee expressed concern about the continued deduction in funding to the health sector.
“It is unbelievable that government is giving very little to the sector yet with the pandemic, health has taken centre stage,” he said.
Ssebikaali added that without the National Health Insurance, increment of funding is impossible explaining that there is no way government can reach Universal Health Coverage without getting a National Health Insurance Scheme.
He pointed out a National Health Insurance Scheme is an entry point to go to the much sought-after Universal Health Coverage.
“What we need as a country is to have a national insurance establishment in Uganda. It’s eighteen years since it was introduced but it has not been realized in the whole country”.
Earlier this year, Uganda made progress towards Universal Health Coverage when the Parliament of Uganda passed the National Health Insurance Bill (NHIB) into an Act of Parliament on March 31, 2021.
The act aimed to ensure that all Ugandans are entitled to a specified Health Benefits Package, accessed from both public and private accredited health service providers, such as hospitals, health centres and clinics
The bill was however repealed, Mr. Ssebikaali told reporters that its now in the first Parliamentary Council.
“If Ministry of Health fails to present it on the flow of Parliament by May 2020, as Members on the Health Committee, we shall bring a private’s member’s bill”.
Tabled before Parliament in August 2019 for ?rst reading, the National Health Insurance Scheme Bill, 2019, requires all Ugandans above 18 years to contribute to the scheme before they can access health services across the country.
The Bill also proposes that employees in the formal sector be subjected to a 4% deduction from their salaries, while their employers contribute 1% to the health scheme.