KAMPALA – Minister of Health Dr Jane Ruth Aceng has revealed that access to health care has increased with 86% of the population within 5km of reach of either public or private health facilities.
While reporting the sector’s performance of the NRM Manifesto, Aceng said the numbers rose from 75% by 2010.
“Health facilities (both Government and private) have increased as follows;181 hospitals in 2019 from 156 in 2015, 222 Health Centres IVs in 2019 from 193 in 2015, 1,510 Health Centre IIIs in 2019 from 1,383 in 2015. 3,364 Health Centre II in 2019 from 2,790 and 1,578 private clinics of which 90% are in Metropolitan Kampala,” she said.
She noted that MoH engaged all RDCs at the end of February 2019 and they signed commitments to monitor sanitation and hygiene activities within their districts.
While the national latrine coverage is 79% for any form of latrine, Aceng said the national coverage for improved latrines is only 19%.
“Latrine coverage is also affected by the frequent floods and landslides,” she said.
She revealed that handwashing with soap and water has increased from 34% to 86% during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This practice needs to be sustained to reduce diseases related to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene,” minister said.
MoH advocated for creation of breastfeeding corners at all workplaces (including Parliament) which Aceng said there is a need to follow up on the practice so that breastfeeding mothers can continue feeding for at least 2 years.
The minister said the sector has scaled up the Results-Based Financing program with a focus on Reproductive, Maternal, Neonatal, Child and Adolescent Health Services in all districts which is geared at improving efficiency, equity and quality of health services.
“The 450 Bed Specialised Women & Neonatal hospital at Mulago launched by H.E. The President in October 2018 is now fully functional and provides services such as,
Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Gynaecological-oncology services, Advanced Neonatal medical and surgical services among others,”
She said together with Partners and non-governmental Organizations MoH shall continue to sensitize families on the use of Family Planning.
“According to the UDHS 2016, Contraceptive Prevalence Rate increased from 24% to 39% for modern methods. However, our target is 50% by 2020.
Male involvement in sexual and reproductive health is very low and we plan to disseminate and operationalize the Male Involvement Strategy,” she said.
According to Aceng, routine immunization services are provided at all health facilities and outreaches conducted in all districts.
“Previously, the government was providing UGX 9 billion for procurement of traditional vaccines. This was increased to UGX 11 billion in 2018/19 and further to UGX 21 billion in FY 2019/20,” she said.
In addition, the mister said the government co-finances the new vaccines supported by GAVI.
“If the requirement of UGX 21b is met, the annual increase required will be UGX 500 million to cater for the new births,” she said.
A new Cobalt-60 Radiotherapy Machine was commissioned and construction of 6 more radiotherapy bunkers to improve the radiotherapy services is ongoing said the minister. Adding that, “The UCI is in the process of establishing Regional Cancer Centres in Gulu and Mbarara to increase access to care.”
Commenting on the HIV status in the country, the minister revealed that ART coverage among HIV infected adults and children has increased over the years to 86% (1,198,445 / 1,393,445) in 2018/19.
“This progressive trend implies that the country is on track to achieve the second of the triple 90-90-90 by 2020 targets in the Fast Track Strategy for ending AIDS by 2030,” she said.
She added that, “In FY 2018/19, 91% (29,475/32,485) HIV+ pregnant women not on HAART receiving ARVs for elimination of Mother-To-Child Transmission of HIV. Transmission of HIV from infected mothers to their newborn babies fell to less than 3,000 babies during the year.”
Aceng further revealed that the national malaria prevalence in children under five years declined from 55% in 2009 to 17% in 2017, by Rapid Diagnostic Tests and 9% by microscopy.
“MoH and partners continue to implement malaria reduction strategies like use of LLINs, Indoor Residual Spraying and Larviciding,” said Aceng.
She said the government will be distributing another 27.4 million nets this year beginning June 2020. “A National Malaria Control and Elimination Policy 2020 – 2030 is under development.”
The country has established laboratory capacity at UVRI and National Public Health Laboratory at Butabika to diagnose and confirm outbreaks including COVID-19.
According to Aceng, the overall staffing level in public health facilities is at 76%.
“The target by 2018 was 80% however, creation of new districts and upgrading of health facilities increased the need for more health workers, thus falling short of the target,” she said.
The minister noted that whereas there are improvements in staffing levels, there are still shortages in critical cadres such as Doctors at 51% gap, Anaesthetic Officers (30%), Dispensers (44%), Pharmacists (50%), and Theatre staff (32%).
“Vacant posts for Consultants and Senior Consultants in the national and RRHs in the country is at 61% while the gap for the specialized cadres is at 83%.”
The minister said a total of 721 scholarships have been awarded to health workers and these include; 101 for Diploma in Anaesthesia, 39 for Bachelor of Anaesthesia, 29 for Bachelor in Biomedical Engineering, and 173 for Certificate in Theatre Techniques, among others.
The Public Health Emergency Operation Center monitors all districts 24/7 for alerts and advises the concerned people immediately said Aceng.
“All the epidemics that occurred in 2018/2019 (Ebola, CCHF, Yellow Fever, Rift Valley Fever, Cholera and Meningitis) were confirmed quickly leading to controlling them in short periods,” reads the report.
“Currently, we are strengthening the systems to be more resilient. Permanent Isolation Centers are being constructed at Lacor, Entebbe, Mbarara and Mulago.
With the outbreak of COVID-19, MoH plans to strengthen the Port Health Services by recruiting full-time staff, construction of Port Health facilities and strengthening surveillance and laboratory services,” she added.
Aceng reported an increase in the allocation for medicines and health supplies has been increasing from UGX 202 billion in FY 2010/11 to UGX 396.17 in FY 2019/20.
“In addition, UGX 7.4 billion which is 50% of the entire PHC non-wage grant to PNFPs was released to JMS to procure and distribute EMHS for accredited PNFP facilities,” she noted.
The minister said that the FY 2018/19, on average the 41 commodities were available on 75 of the 90 days (84%) and an average of 41% of health facilities reported over 95% availability.
“MoH plans to scale up the innovative e-LMIS system and link it to the Enterprise Resource Platform under development by NMS to enhance traceability and accountability of medicines,” said Aceng.
She said by February 2018, a total of 331 sub-counties/Town Councils / Wards did not have HC IIIs as per the MoH policy and Presidential Directives
Under the Uganda Inter-government Fiscal Transfer Program (UgIFT), 289 HC IIs will be upgraded to HC IVs over a four year period from FY 2018/19 to 21/22 Aceng revealed.