Uganda yet to implement policy on universal health coverage

Saturday December 15 2018

uganda hospital

Patients wait for treatment at Mukono Health Centre, Uganda, during a countrywide doctors strike. Uganda is yet to implement policy on universal health coverage. PHOTO | MORGAN MBABAZI | NATION 

By EVELYN LIRRI
More by this Author

Uganda is betting on a national health insurance scheme to help the country realise universal health coverage.

The plan, which was first mooted over a decade ago with two goals — to increase the total amount of money available for health financing and make healthcare affordable, especially for the poor — has faced several setbacks in the past, and is yet to be implemented.

In the National Health Insurance Bill 2012, employees in the formal sector are required to contribute four per cent of their gross monthly income, and employers would top it up with an equal amount to make a total of eight per cent.

Pensioners are to contribute one per cent of their monthly payment.

Architects of the Bill note that the modest financial contribution by those registered will create a pool of money to finance the health sector so that the sick can access better quality services than is currently available.

This would also be in line with aspirations that global leaders set to achieve when in 2012, they unanimously endorsed the Universal Health Coverage recommendations that would among other things enable every individual to access good quality care without facing financial hardships.

With the Bill currently before Cabinet, State Minister for Health Sarah Opendi, hopes that it will be discussed and passed by parliament before the end of the 2018/19 financial year.

“A national health insurance scheme will ensure that there is universal access to primary healthcare services and of good quality,” she said.

She however said that the government was already implementing programmes that are geared towards ensuring the country reaches the goal of universal health coverage. These include expanding programmes such as immunisation and access to healthcare.

For instance, she said at least 86 per cent of the population now lives within a walking distance — often calculated as within a five kilometre radius of a health facility.