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.
Musevni says that this is a key milestone towards achieving the Universal Health Coverage beyond the national achievements with the control of COVID-19.
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,” he said.
Museveni added “Mortalities have reduced among children and mothers and drugs are no longer stolen since we inscribed the UG symbol on them,” Museveni added.
The president revealed that government has also encouraged and funded scientists to research indigenous medicines including vaccine development for COVID-19.
“We have 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.”
Museveni said that the diseases are part of our security risks, adding that local production of control tools of whichever outbreak the country experiences 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.
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 noted.
“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.
He also applauded Dr. Joseph Epodoi and his surgical and pediatrics teams at Soroti Regional Referral Hospital upon the successful separation of Siamese twins.
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.