Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The 94.18 billion Shillings supplementary budget recently provided to the Ministry of Health has been largely committed to the procurement of ambulances, Intensive Care Unit (ICU) equipment, and test kits.
The money is part of the 304 billion Shillings Supplementary Budget that was approved by parliament on April 4, 2020 to facilitate the COVID-19 response in different sectors.
The Ministry of Health has committed 11 billion Shillings of its share towards the purchase of 38 ambulances while 42.37 billion was reserved for the procurement of ICU equipment for the different regional referral hospitals.
Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, the Minister of Health says that the ambulances and ICU equipment are expected in June. She added that another 500 million Shillings is already committed towards non-residential buildings which the Ministry is going to refurbish at the regional referrals to house the ICU equipment.
According to Aceng, the rest of the money has been committed for purchasing furniture worth 300 million Shillings, test kits worth 10 billion shillings, medical supplies (Personal Protective Equipment-PPE) worth 8 billion Shillings. Meanwhile 3.62 billion Shillings has been budgeted for contract staff salaries, 7.7 billion Shillings for allowances, 2 billion Shillings for fuel and 1.08 billion Shillings for printing and stationary.
The ministry will use 1.35 billion Shillings on, inland travels. Besides the recent supplementary budget provided by parliament, Dr Aceng also accounted for an earlier 25 billion Shillings availed to her Ministry from the Disaster Emergency Fund to help in the country’s preparation towards the fight against coronavirus Disease.
Aceng says that this money was mainly spent on risk allowances (3.9 billion Shillings), procurement of medical supplies (5 billion Shillings), test kits (6 billion Shillings), fuel (3.8 billion Shillings) and hire of venues for quarantine centres (1.6 billion Shilllings), among and others.
The Minister was appearing before the National Economy committee together with the Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary and other officials. The commitee was discussing a recent 1.13 trillion Shillings loan request by the Ministry of Finance from the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank Group to provide sufficient financial resources to the Health Sector and mitigate negative effects of Covid-19 on the economy of Uganda.
Syda Bbumba, the National Economy Committee Chairperson wondered why the budget for printing and stationary was so high in the expenditure for 94.1 billion supplementary budget.
The MPs also demanded information on the ambulances being procured and where they are going to be stationed.
Ruhinda North MP Thomas Tayebwa and Tororo South MP Fredrick Angura appealed to the Health Ministry to pay more attention to the border districts saying that these are likely to determine Uganda’s fate in regard to Covid-19 pandemic.
Aceng promised to avail more information to the committee in regard to the expenditure of funds availed to them. She, however, sought for a waiver of utility bills on different regional referral hospitals during the crisis.