By Mike Sebalu
The Minister of Health Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng has said delayed payments from the Ministry of Finance has negatively impacted the ministry’s ability to timely deliver essential medicines to government health facilities.
Aceng was on Wednesday, February 1, 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 that 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 costs as a result of increased fuel prices has also contributed to the current drug stock-outs in government hospitals.
Aceng recommended that government should treat National Medical Stores (NMS) as a unique entity that 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 said.
Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa directed that Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja holds an urgent meeting between the health and finance ministers and report back to the House on Thursday.