July 15, 2013

Misunderstanding Failing Health System – MP Lyomoki

The lack of understanding and consensus on the importance of health is the reason Uganda’s health system is struggling, a Member of Parliament has said.

Workers MP Sam Lyomoki
Workers MP Sam Lyomoki

Workers MP and former health committee chairperson, Dr Sam Lyomoki, contends that this is despite the fact that health is one of the most important sectors in the country.

In relation to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which Uganda is struggling to meet as the deadline looms in 2015, Lyomoki says the health sector if fully funded would have improved all the MDGs that are yet to be achieved.

However, the MP says through there are budgeting battles with government and particularly the Ministry of Finance, health funding is considered consumptive.

He says there is need to overhaul the system considering many people are dying and are in ill-health, which negatively affects the development of the nation through absenteeism and failure to participate in productive areas such as agriculture.

The Abuja declaration dictates that each nation must spend at least 15% of its budget on the health sector, while the World Health Organisation recommends spending 64 dollars per capita expenditure yet the Ugandan government is only spending 24 dollars per capita per person.

Lyomoki is convinced that with a leadership that understands the importance of health and consensus between the leaders and the people, preventable diseases like diarrhea can be managed.

Lyomoki, however, says the disadvantage is that there has been a lot of rhetoric without actual funding. In the 2013/2014 budget speech, Finance Minister Maria Kiwanuka stated that by the end of the next financial year Uganda should have a plan to eradicate malaria that currently kills about 100,000 Ugandans each year.

President Yoweri Museveni also noted that there is need for more midwives in hospitals to avoid death of 16 mothers each day and 106 neonates per day, but Lyomoki argues that these need funding.

At least 42 percent of mothers are giving birth outside health centre while the 58 percent in hospital give birth without skilled attendance.

The workers MP wonders what sense it would make for the 500 people dying each day to talk about a  road, elections, democracy or electricity if their lives cannot be saved.

Without providing detail, Lyomoki notes that the most part of this year has been marred by infighting caused by disagreements between government agencies such as the National Medical stores and Ministry of Health.

Another Workers MP, Teopista Ssentongo, agrees that the problem is not with the executive but the implementers especially the Ministry of Health which does not let the money trickle down to those in need.

In the 2013/2014 financial year the health sector has been allocated 940.4 billion shillings up from 852.2 billion shillings. Lyomoki is confident that even without external support, if planned well, the money can be adequate to cater for health.

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