PRESIDENT Yoweri Museveni is optimistic that the country’s health sector will greatly change since Parliament has passed the Health Insurance Bill as a mechanism to provide additional resources to its operations.
“This is a key milestone towards achieving the Universal Health Coverage beyond the national achievements with the control of COVID-19,” he noted.
The remarks were in a speech read by Vice President Maj (Rtd) Jessica Alupo, while representing the President as the guest of honour, at the Uganda Medical Doctors 5th Grand Conference. The event was held at Silver Springs Bugolobi.
On March 31, 2021, the Ugandan Parliament passed the NHI bill that outlines the general structure for a first-ever national social health insurance scheme in Uganda.
It was passed with a pre-set benefits package that includes a range of essential health services including family planning counseling and services. The scheme will be financed by a combination of employee and government contributions, governed by a Board of Directors, and aims to cover all Ugandans when fully implemented.
The Bill seeks, among others, to lower the cost and improve the quality, safety, and efficiency of healthcare in Uganda.
In his speech, Museveni noted that health systems around the globe and especially in Africa are overstrained by the heavy financial and non-financial burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases.
“Here in Uganda, for example, malaria was claiming many lives before the NRM came into leadership but based on our health policies of ensuring health for all Ugandans at all levels, the story has been reversed even for other diseases. Mortalities have reduced among children and mothers and drugs are no longer stolen since we inscribed the UG symbol on them,” Museveni added.
“Government has also encouraged and funded our scientists to research indigenous medicines including vaccine development for COVID-19, expanded and strengthened our health system to cope with surging COVID-19 numbers by recruiting more Human resources, procuring equipment and medical supplies, and expanding infrastructure including enhancing oxygen supply,” he noted.
The President also noted that COVID-19 has shown, “We are able and we must design and produce our tools to fight the disease. These diseases are part of our security risks. Local production of control tools of whichever outbreak we experience is important for resilience in case of disruptions of global supplies while creating employment for especially the youth and economic development.”
“Scientists should be encouraged and supported to develop locally appropriate and indigenous remedies (medicines, insecticides, mosquito repellents, and a malaria vaccine) for self-reliance. Research and innovation must be encouraged and supported at all levels to ensure that we do not run out of solutions at a time of crisis,” he explained.
The President noted that Uganda is highly rated on the continent and globally in managing the pandemic, President Yoweri Museveni has said.
Museveni said, “The Lancet Commission report at some point during the pandemic, declared Uganda`s COVID-19 response as the best in Africa and 10th in the world. This is a result of strong political leadership which I provide as the chair of the National Task Force on covid-19 response and a whole-government multi-sectoral approach.”
He added, “Government of Uganda has responded firmly to the covid-19 pandemic since its declaration by WHO, based on information and resources at our disposal. As a result, we have managed to keep the COVID-19 infection rates low.”
“As I informed Ugandans recently, it is now about 19 months since the pandemic of corona entered our country and we have had only two waves while other countries have had four waves. We have had a total of 125,920 infections, 96,597 recoveries, and 3,209 deaths. The cases in hospitals today are 179 and the percentage of people that are found positive is today 1% instead of 20% as of May-September, 2021, when the corona spread was highest,” he explained.
“While we regret the deaths that have occurred here in Uganda on account of Corona, we cannot compare them with the deaths that occurred in some of the other countries of the World. However, as I told you on one occasion, the problem in this pandemic, like in many other diseases, is not the virus, but ourselves. Why? I have told you before, that the virus has no legs to walk around and has no wings to fly,” the President noted.
He added, “We, therefore, must all ensure strict observance of the SOPs laid down by the Ministry of Health especially at the Health Centers where we practice. Please do not compromise your health and that of the patients.”
The President also thanked the President of the Uganda Medical Doctors’ Association Dr. Idro Richard and the Management team for this initiative that brings together doctors to share experiences in the medical profession annually.
“This is a gesture of unity and it is proof that you wish your country well and that you believe in a unified struggle to tackle the challenges our nation is confronted with,” Museveni added.
“Over and over again, most especially during my addresses during the COVID-19 lockdown, I have been expressing my gratitude to you for the job well done since the entire globe was challenged by the Corona Pandemic and I will resound my appreciation again on this occasion,” he added.
The President also saluted the medical workers in the COVID-19 fight. “Government recognizes and appreciates your effort. We saw you working tooth and nail, risking your lives to redeem the lives of your brothers and sisters especially during the tough period of the second COVID-19 wave. Government hails your unfathomable sacrifice and display of great patriotism. May you greatly reap from such humanitarian virtues and more so living by your sworn pledge of saving lives at the inception of your medical practice.”
The President also applauded Dr. Joseph Epodoi and his surgical and pediatrics teams at Soroti Regional Referral Hospital upon the successful separation of Siamese twins. “Last year, the same team successfully delivered a baby who was attached to the mother’s liver rather than inside the womb,” he added.
The conference was organized under the theme: “Rethinking the Health Sector Service during the Covid-19 Pandemic.”
Others, who made presentations, included the World Health Organization’s Coordinator of Health Systems Dr. Darinka Perisic, Prof. Francis Omaswa, and Dr. Idro.