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Financial management key in healthcare delivery – PS Atwine

FILE PHOTO; Dr Diana Atwine

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT |  Ministry of Health permanent secretary Dr Diana Atwine has called for a tracking system that will ensure that all allocations to health facilities are utilized efficiently.

Atwine said billions of Shillings and supplies channeled to healthcare delivery get wasted, in the hands of medical personnel at different levels. She adds that the country is witnessing several cases of health accounting officers writing beautiful reports on fake activities in which money and other resources get lost.

She was speaking at the 75th State of the Nation Platform organized by Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE). The dialogue’s central concern was how the health sector can get more funding in order to improve service delivery in the country. Funding for the sector constitutes 8.3 percent of the total budget.

The dialogue built on the findings of a policy research paper on public expenditure governance of the primary healthcare programme in Uganda. Emmanuel Kisaame, one of those who participated in the study, said the in-charges of health units do not have financial management skills and that there is limited adherence to financial guidelines.

Ramathan Ggoobi, another researcher in the study, said health management committees are not only untrained in governance and financial management but also seem to do things the way they want.

Atwine observed a need for resilient systems for efficient utilization of the monies allocated to health units across the country.

In the upcoming budget, the health sector will receive an allocation of 2.3 million Shillings in addition to external financing of one trillion Shillings for donor-funded health projects. Atwiine says that the budget for the year 2019/2020 will mainly focus on governance, preventive measures, health promotion and human resource management.

Atwine argued that the mentality that government work is permanent and pensionable is being discouraged by introducing private-sector principles and standards in the healthcare system.

William Ndolerirwe, a Commissioner in the Finance Ministry, said if allocation and absorption efficiencies are improved, the healthcare budget should be doing much more which currently not the case is.

Dr Fred Muhumuza, an economist at Makerere University said the unbudgeted extra funding of over one trillion shillings to the health sector has the potential of destabilizing the macro economy.

Agnes Atim Aber, the chairperson of Uganda Local Government Finance Commission, said local governments need to be supported to generate own revenues that can be used to boost their local health priorities.

Andrew Mwenda, the chief executive of The Independent news magazine, said Uganda should be focusing on primary health care, particularly preventive measures, instead of pumping money to treat diseases.

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