By Our Reporter
KAMPALA: The upgrade of health centers 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.
“Because of the freeze on Uganda Intergovernmental Fiscal Transfers (UgIFT), the upgrade of health centers under the UgIFT project,” she explained.
Aceng made the revelation while presenting the Ministerial Policy Statement of the Ministry of Health on Wednesday.
The government, in collaboration with the World Bank, has been implementing the Shs1.4 trillion UgIFT program since the 2018–2019 financial year.
The program was designed to support the Ministries of Education, Sports, and Health in improving service delivery at the local government level through the construction of public secondary schools and health center IIIs in each sub-county.
According to Aceng, the ministry will not undertake any upgrades of the health centers in the 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 centers, which are incomplete,” she said.
Obongi County Member of Parliament, Hon. George Bhoka, said that it is disturbing to know that upgrading health centers has not been prioritized.
“If we put about 50 percent of our resources into 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 and Shs1 billion. When you look at the budget and do a cost-benefit analysis, that is what the people at the Ministry of Finance want to see,” Ayume said.
SHe added that the ministry should focus on the 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 Sh4 billion besides the fact that they are not being used to provide services? ” he said.
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