Upgrade of health centres across the country hangs in the balance following a budget cut of Shs80.6 billion.
The Minister of Health, Hon. Jane Ruth Aceng told the Committee on Health that the upgrades will be halted because of the cut in government development funding for local governments.
“Due to the freeze on Uganda Intergovernmental Fiscal Transfers (UgIFT), upgrade of health centres under UgIFT project,” she said.
Aceng made the revelation while presenting the Ministerial Policy Statement of the Ministry of Health on Wednesday, 05 April 2023.
Government in collaboration with the World Bank has been implementing the Shs1.4 trillion UgIFT programme since 2018/2019 financial year.
The programme was designed to support the Ministries of Education and Sports and Health to improve service delivery at the local government through construction of public secondary schools and health centre IIIs in each sub-county.
According to Aceng, the ministry will not undertake any upgrade of the health centres in 2023/2024 financial year because the development budget has been cut to Shs152 billion from Shs233 billion.
“The available funds will be used to complete the health centres which are incomplete,” she said.
Obongi County Member of Parliament, Hon. George Bhoka said that it is disturbing to know that upgrade of health centres has not been prioritised.
“If we put about 50 per cent of our resources in primary healthcare, we would relieve our district and regional hospitals,” said Bhoka.
Committee Chairperson, Dr Charles Ayume urged the ministry to explore the option of generating resources from the private wings of the regional referral hospitals.
“We have met regional referral hospitals and most of them made projections of between Shs600 million to Shs1 billion. When you look at the budget, do cost benefit analysis, that is what the people at Ministry of Finance want to see,” Ayume said.
He added that the ministry should focus on completion of ongoing construction works in the regional referral hospitals, as opposed to erecting new buildings.
“We notice that many regional referral hospitals have incomplete infrastructures. Why don’t we take a stance and say, ‘this year nothing new comes up’ because some have been under construction for over seven years with variations of Shs4 billion besides the fact that they are not being used to provide services.” he said.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Parliament of the Republic of Uganda.