The Minister of Health Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng has said delayed payments from Ministry of Finance has negatively impacted the Health Ministry’s ability to timely deliver essential medicines to government health facilities.
Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng was on Wednesday, February 1st 2023 presenting a statement to Parliament on the shortage of medical supplies in Government health facilities. she said the distribution of essential medicine is a continuous activity which is based on a pre-determined schedule.
“For this to be achieved, it presupposes that funds for the distribution are readily available & this has not been the case. As a result of delayed payments [from Ministry of Finance], our ability to timely deliver essential medicines to gov’t health facilities has been negatively impacted.” Dr. Aceng told Parliament.
The Minister said the inadequate budget amidst increased distribution cost as a result of increased fuel prices has also contributed to the current drug stock outs in government hospitals.
Dr. Ruth Aceng recommended that government should treat National Medical Stores (NMS) as a special entity which should get funds on the first day of the quarter.
“The National Medical Stores should be treated as a unique entity to get money by the first day of the quarter. Other entities can wait but let NMS get money, or if not possible the Ministry of Finance should return NMS funds kept in Bank of Uganda and return development partners’ money back to NMS which is for distribution of Medicines procured by partners.” she recommended.
Deputy Speaker Rt. Hon. Thomas Tayebwa directed that Prime Minister of Uganda Rt. Hon. Robinah Nabbanja
holds an urgent meeting between the minister of health and minister of finance and report back to the House on Thursday.
Minister Jane Ruth Aceng also updated Parliament following reports of the high cost of third-line ARVs. She assured the House that the Ministry of Health has adequate stock of ARV drugs in the country for all the patients who need them.
Public hospitals in Uganda have been hit by shortages of essential medicines and supplies needed for emergency care according to media reports. The shortages have affected National regional referral Hospitals and government health centers across the country. The National Medical Stores delivery schedule indicates that there should be medical supplies between the month of December and January, 2023.
However, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Ramathan Ggoobi on Monday said the ministry had already released up to 50% of the National Medical Stores budget. Ggoobi said there with no reason why there should be lack of medicines in hospitals.