Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Members of Parliament on the committees of finance, budget and health say there is a need to increase the annual budget of National Medical Stores-NMS by an additional 100 billion shillings.
They note that the agency’s budget for essential medicines has stagnated around shillings 200billion since 2016/2017 financial year and yet an estimated 1.3 million people are born every year.
Led by Ignatius Mudimi Wamakuyu, the vice-chairperson budget committee and Keefa Kiwanuka, the finance committee chairperson, the legislators made the remark after touring the NMS warehouse in Entebbe and the new warehouse project in Kajjansi on Monday.
The legislators are concerned that the failure to increase the NMS budget for medicines could result in drug stockouts.
Kiwanuka, who is also the Kiboga East MP supports the proposal to increase the agency’s budget so that it can increase the quantity of supplies to the various health facilities.
Other MPs who toured the warehouses include Bugiri municipality MP Asuman Basalirwa and Koboko Municipality MP Dr. Charles Ayume. Dr. Ayume is also the health committee chairperson, while Basalirwa is the vice-chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee.
The legislators were reacting to a statement by Moses Kamabare, the General Manager of NMS who noted that the agency needs an additional shillings 100billion.
Kamabare says the additional funds will facilitate the increased supply of essential medicines and medical supplies to the upgraded health centres and also supply more obstetrics packages, commonly known as Mama kits for expectant mothers who deliver in health facilities and other items.
In the past two financial years, the ministry of health planned to upgrade 160 health centres in 285 sub-counties that did not have health centre IIIs in 2018/2019 financial year.
In the 2020/2021 budget speech, the minister for finance Matia Kasaija noted that Uganda had 1,327 functional health centre IIIs and that 41 health centre IIs would be upgraded to health centre IIIs in the next financial year.
In June, Kasaija in the 2021/2022 budget speech noted that 43 health facilities will be upgraded and new health centre IIIs will be built during the financial year. Upgrading health centre IIs to health centre IIIs and construction of health centre IIIs is primarily to provide maternity wards, equipment and staff housing units so as to ensure more expectant mothers deliver at health facilities.
Kasaija added that the budget of NMS has thereby been increased from shillings 420.3 billion in 2020/2021 to shillings 600.3 billion in 2021/2022 to “ensure adequate supply and delivery of essential medicines and health supplies.”
However, Kamabare told MPs that the biggest portion of the budget was ring-fenced for buying COVID-19 vaccines and other laboratory machines which will not cater for the increasing needs of the various health facilities.
He however says top priority will be given to providing mama kits if NMS secures the additional shillings 100 Billion. The agency spends close to shillings 20 billion in buying mama kits every year.
He adds that the shillings 100 billion will not only close the existing gap for mama kits but also take care of an increased level of health care for all the upgraded health facilities.