Health ministry grapples with Shs300b shortfall

Thursday April 9 2020

Briefing. Health minister Ruth Aceng addressing

Briefing. Health minister Ruth Aceng addressing the nation on April 2. The minster is incharge of enforcing the quarantine of suspected cases of Covid-19. PHOTO BY ABUBAKER LUBOWA 

By MISAIRI THEMBO KAHUNGU

The Ministry of Health, which is on the frontline in the fight against the deadly coronavirus pandemic that has ravaged most of the countries in the world, has been left guessing after Parliament approved a budget with a funding gap of Shs300 billion.

Although the ministry had presented a budget of Shs404b to support the fight against the pandemic, the Ministry of Finance officials approved a supplementary of Shs62b out of a total supplementary of Shs284b. The MPs however, used their powers and revised the Health supplementary upwards to support the various interventions in the fight against the pandemic.

A large chunk of the supplementary budget has been allocated to different ministries and agencies, which government says are providing support work in the response.

Other sectors
Security, which is charged with enforcing the curfew and other lockdown measures, was given Shs74b, Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) will take Shs30b, Ministry of Information and ICT will receive Shs6b, Disaster Preparedness (Shs59.4b), whereas the Local Governments, including the Resident District Commissioners (RDCs), will use Shs36.2b.

Addressing Parliament before the supplementary budget was passed, Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng said the ministry’s response to Covid-19 requires a total of Shs404b to cover at least six months.
“Government has committed Shs104b, leaving a funding gap of Shs300m,” Dr Aceng said.
She told Parliament that the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) was running short of test kits and an order for more had been placed.

However, the minister did not give details of the activities to be affected by the budget shortfall. Attempts to speak to other ministry officials were futile by press time.

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The Health ministry, which is likely to be overwhelmed in the worst case scenario, has already recruited 220 additional medical workers to serve on a six-month contract.
The ministry has also planned to give risk allowances to medical workers deployed in the fight against Covid-19.
Much as the government is receiving Covid-19 financial support, most of it is meant to boast the food supplies something that may not suit the needs for medical supplies by the Health sector.
Meanwhile, the Health ministry is working with security officials to trace 18,860 people who flew into the country from Covid-19 affected countries from March 7 until government banned all passenger planes on March 22.
Dr Aceng said the figure was reached following flight manifestations and all these people already in the community are needed for institutional quarantine and subsequent testing to ascertain their status.
She also revealed that a boda boda motorcyclist in Entebbe is among the 52 people who tested positive for Covid-19.
“We got information from him (patient) to know where he was and we have cordoned off the area for follow-up on contacts,” she said.

Patients
Confirmed cases. By Tuesday, 52 people had tested positive to the Covid-19 disease.
Entebbe Grade B Hospital is taking care of 30 of the Covid-19 patients, 20 are at Mulago Specialised hospital, whereas Hoima and Adjumani hospitals have one each.

mkthembo@ug.nationmedia.com

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