Govt Proposes Budget Cuts for Ministry of Health

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In short
The Ministry of Health faces a 52.7 billion shilling budget cut in the coming financial year 2012/2013, if parliament approves it.

The Ministry of Health faces a budget cut in the coming financial year 2012/2013, if parliament approves it.

The health sector budget is projected to reduce by 52.7 billion shillings. This would bring the total budgetary allocation to the sector to 761.6 billion shillings down from 814.3 billion shillings it was allocated in last year’s budget. This means that of the entire budget projection the health sector will account to 8% of the resource envelope.

According to the Minister for Health, Christine Ondoa, the budget cut is as a result of two main donor projects that are winding up. One of the projects ending is the strengthening of reproductive and mental health under Butabika Hospital.

The donor budget is expected to reduce from 19.5 billion shillings to 5.4 billion shillings. The other project is rehabilitation and equipping of health facilities in Central region for which funding will reduce from 53.7 billion shillings to 15 billion shillings in the coming financial year.

But legislators demanded to know why government has reduced its health budget failing to reach the Abuja Declaration target of 15% of the resources envelope. MPs Betty Amongi for Oyam South, Silvia Namabidde for Mityana and Jackline Amongin for Ngora County were perturbed that government was cutting funding to the health sector when the situation in the country was deteriorating. Amongi threatened not pass the budget if government fails to improve the budget line.

But it is relatively good news for the health workers after government proposed 33 billion shillings for salary enhancement. This will account for 21 % increment of the health workers’ salaries. Minister Ondoa observed that of this amount, 24.2 billion shillings would be for salary enhancement while the other 9 billion shillings is to cover Public health care wage shortfalls for 2011/2012 budget.

Odoa explained that the shortfall arose due to insufficient provision of funds for centralized and decentralized health workers. The problem was coupled by the additional recruitment of health workers by some local governments without consulting with Ministry of Public Service.

Ondoa says that their main priority would be to have salaries of every health worker increased but lack of funds has constrained their efforts. She says they have tried to approach the Ministry of Finance but their hands are tied owing to the limited resources. She was also quick to note that no funds have been earmarked for recruitment of permanent staff in the 2012/2013 budget.

Asuman Lukwago, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health on Monday presented two scenarios if government was to increase salaries for health workers. He said government would need 214 billion shillings each year if the salaries were to be increased by 100 percent. If the increase is by half, then government would need 107 billion shillings.

Regional comparison indicated that a medical officer in Uganda gets $354, while in Kenya they get $959, Tanzania $550, Rwanda $645 and South Africa $2,150. A nurse or midwife in Uganda gets $107, in Kenya $335, Rwanda $419 and South Africa $1,200.