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CEHURD sues gov’t for contempt of court over proposed health budget cuts

A lady who lost her daughter in law because she couldnt raise shs50,000 for a bribe at a press conference earlier today.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT |  Health Rights Advocacy Organization Center for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) has petitioned the Constitutional court over the proposed budget cuts for the health sector.

In the petition filed on Tuesday, Peter Eceru, a lawyer and Programmes Specialist at CEHURD which is suing the government for contempt of court said he had perused through the budget framework papers for the FY 2021/22 and found no sufficient funds for the health sector in general and maternal health in particular.

He said the government has instead proposed to cut the already meagre funds of the budget for the Health sector from 2.7 trillion Shillings last financial year to 2.5 trillion Shillings this year representing a 9.3% decline.  

Eceru also notes that he has perused through the Ministerial Policy Statement for the health sector and found no vote for maternal health which violates a judgement given by the same court last year.

In that case also referred to as Petition 16, the court ordered the government to ensure that women enjoy their reproductive rights by increasing funding for maternal health. 

The Petition 16 case was filed in 2011, following the deaths of Jennifer Anguko and Sylvia Nalubowa whose demise was linked to low budgetary allocation for maternal health causing a shortage of necessary commodities in government-run health facilities such as Mama Kits.

Miriam Kyomugisha, an officer in charge of strategic litigation says they have run to court to ensure that the government complies with the court’s ruling as this year’s budgeting process is being finalized.  

However, ahead of filing the petition, Village Health Teams (VHTs), women who have had maternal health-related complications and those that have lost loved ones held a press conference in which they called upon the government to fix the mess in the health sector. 

An elderly woman from Mityana identified as Mama Rhoda spoke of how she lost her daughter-in-law because she couldn’t raise 50,000 Shillings bribe for health workers at Mityana district hospital to help her deliver.

She said knowing the hospital to be offering free services, she only had 30,000 Shillings which was spent on buying cotton wool, gloves and razor blades needed for the delivery and had nothing left for the health workers. 

Rukiya Nyombi a VHT from Nakawa division asked MPs to stand with them as they demand more funds for health. She said even as many hospitals have new structures, access to drugs remains a challenge. 

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