MPs on the parliamentary Forum for Children-UPFC have tasked government to substantially increase the Immunization and Nutrition budget for 2013-2014 financial year.
UPFC is seeking an increase of the budget for the UNEPI- Uganda National Expanded Program on Immunization budget from UG shillings 1 billion to UG shillings 4 billion to carter for the increased coverage, the growing population and the newly introduced vaccines.
Florence Mutyabule, the Namutumba District Woman MP also the chairperson of the Forum blames the failure to implement the Uganda Nutrition Plan launched in 2011 by the President to budget constraints. She demands that during the review of the Budget in the coming weeks, priority should be given for 8.6 billion UG shillings for the first year of the Uganda Nutrition Action in the Health Sector.
A costing Analysis by the Office of the Prime Minister suggests that addressing these concerns would cost 15.4 billion UG shillings.
The Uganda Nutrition Action Plan underlines that while Uganda is extremely fertile and food secure, malnutrition remains stubbornly high. It notes that improved community and family nutrition practices through extensive behavior change communication are a crucial part of the solution.
Lulume Bayiga, the Shadow health Minister and a member of the forum says the struggle against malnutrition and poor Immunization in the country needs the concerted efforts of all citing government, Parliament, Civil Society, Religious leaders, Media, Cultural leaders, Teachers, Parents, Law enforcement officials and others.
The National Development Plan shows that Immunization Programs are crippling due to inadequate funding. The 2011 Uganda Demographic Health survey (UDHS) shows that about 52 percent of Uganda Children below five are fully immunized compared to other East African Community members states, which have achieved extremely high percentages. Rwanda is at 90 percent, Kenya at 77 percent and Tanzania at 75 percent.
UNICEF and World Health Organization estimates place Uganda only above Somalia in the Eastern and Southern Africa regions.
The Parliamentary Children Forum notes that a third of the Children in Uganda suffer from stunting and that annually 300,000 children below five suffer from severe acute malnutrition. It also shows that Uganda is able to treat only 15% of its child population. The cost of malnutrition in Uganda is 1.8 Trillion shillings annually equivalent to 5.6 percent of GDP according to a recent Government/World Food Program report 2013 and this imposes a huge burden to Uganda’s children, its future and development.