Civil Society Coalition to Stop Maternal Mortality in Uganda
Reaction to the Financial Year 2013/14 Budget Speech
For more information contact: Samuel Senfuka, White Ribbon Alliance Uganda: 0704920043
Dennis Odwe, AGHA Uganda: firstname.lastname@example.org, 0772637740
Nakibuuka Musisi, CEHURD: email@example.com 0782496681
Asia Russell, Health GAP: firstname.lastname@example.org, 0776574729
(Kampala) In reaction to the release of the Budget Speech 2013/14 today 13 June, 2013, a coalition of health advocacy organizations released the following statement: “The 2013/14 Budget does not prioritize the most important issues facing Ugandans—it contains massive budget increases for State House and for Defense while health investments that literally mean the difference between life and death for millions of Ugandans have been starved for funding.
‘The economic growth described by President Museveni’s in his June 8 State of the Nation Address is virtually meaningless when communities cannot reliably obtain essential health care in facilities that have the staff, medicines, and equipment needed to save lives,’ said Nakibuuka Musisi of CEHURD.
Furthermore, Government is proposing new regressive taxes in a misguided attempt to fill a revenue gap triggered by aid suspension in the wake of massive theft of donor funding. This policy decision by government will further punish ordinary Ugandans—the victims of theft of public funds—while corrupt officials walk free. ‘Government’s proposed 18% VAT on water is actually a typhoid tax,’ continued Musisi. ‘Corruption already makes us sick—why does government want to punish us further?’
We call on Parliament to stand by their constituents and insist that this Budget is not passed unless and until the following changes are reflected in the 2013/14 Appropriations Bill:
1. Wages for priority health worker cadres must be increased across the health sector, in particular at HC IVs and HCIIIs, in particular midwives, anesthetists, and laboratory technicians. At minimum this will require an investment of Ushs 77.9 billion. Without this investment, the successful recruitment of thousands of new health workers will be in vain—they will be not be motivated to work and will move on to other jobs. Non-financial motivation (staff housing, etc.) for health workers must also be expanded.
2. Dramatically increase the investment in priority medicines, including ARVs and ACTs, recognizing the large unmet need for HIV treatment and anti malaria treatment (including in particular prevention during pregnancy, which will contribute to a reduction in maternal mortality). Government funding for HIV treatment must be scaled up, given the new HIV treatment coverage gap that will be created in 2013 as a result new WHO treatment guidelines, and in order to leverage the fact that Uganda can massively reduce HIV incidence through earlier access to HIV treatment—while saving lives: evidence shows that
Providing treatment for all in need in Uganda would help decrease new HIV infections by 60% and more than 100,000 deaths could be averted over just 4 years.
3. Absorb the costs of an expiring donor grant for paediatric HIV treatment and Early Infant Diagnosis. The total cost for paediatric ARVs and for diagnostics for this grant is Ushs 10.8 billion.
4. Absorb costs required to continue the donor funded, expiring program on Integrated Community Case
Management for malaria.
5. Ensure recruitment of sufficient numbers of staff at General Hospitals and Regional Referral Hospitals
(through second wave of recruitment in remainder of FY 2012-13 and/or through budget for FY 2013-14).
6. Reflect the President’s London Summit Family Planning commitment with increase in additional expenditure for reproductive health commodities by 5 billion shillings each year for 5 years.
‘Uganda lags behind the region and much of the continent in addressing crucial health priorities, from rising HIV incidence, to persistently high rates of maternal death, to preventable deaths from malaria and vaccine preventable illnesses. This is shameful and unacceptable,’ said Dennis Odwe of AGHA Uganda.
‘Uganda cannot be strong economically without tackling these preventable health crises,’ said Samuel Senfuka of White Ribbon Alliance Uganda. ‘Our development suffers when Ugandans cannot gain access to essential health services.’
‘We are well aware that diarrhea diseases are the second leading cause of under five mortality, and an 18% VAT on water is self defeating in achievement of our health goals. Moreover we know that access to safe water is key in the fight against HIV and retention of children in schools,’ said Hellen Kasujja of CIDI. ‘Such a regressive tax will have grave implications, especially on women who are at the epicenter of our economy.’