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Ugandan Parliamentarians Threaten To Hold Up National Budget Unless More Funding Committed To Health Care

In Uganda, where “there are fewer than two health workers for every 1,000 people — a level the World Health Organization defines as a severe shortage” — the nation’s parliamentary “social services committee, which has initial oversight of the country’s health budget, pushed a resolution through parliament last week threatening to hold up approval of the entire budget unless funding to recruit and retain new health workers is increased,” VOA News reports. “Committee members, with support from the Women’s Parliamentary Association, called for a specific increase of at least $103 million to the sector,” the news service notes. “In addition to the funding increase, the parliamentarians are calling for an end to a wage freeze for current employees and a ban on recruiting new health workers,” as well as “demanding a supplementary pool of money to improve health care in communities that are particularly short staffed,” according to the news service.

“The current draft budget allocates $307.5 million to the health sector — around seven percent of the total budget,” VOA writes, adding, “Even before the budget was officially introduced, Ministry of Health officials had acknowledged there would not be enough money to fill health worker gaps.” According to advocates, Uganda’s health indicators will keep declining without additional health care workers, and “[t]hey pointed specifically to an increase in Uganda’s HIV prevalence rate from 6.4 percent in 2005 to 7.3 percent last year,” VOA writes. The budget, which usually is passed by mid-September, “is scheduled to move to the entire parliament for debate this week,” the news service notes (Green, 9/4).

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