By Christopher Bendana
A leading medical practitioner wants the government to invest more money in the social services sector because of the benefits that accrue from that investment.
Contrary to the government’s focus on investing more in infrastructure development including construction of power dams and roads, Prof. Francis Omaswa wants more investment in the social services.
Speaking during the launch of Health Workforce financing in Uganda: Challenges and Opportunities report Prof. Francis Omaswa said that though infrastructure development was important, investment in socials services was more important.
The launch which took place at Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala on Wednesday was attended by health practitioners from both government and the private sector, the civil society and donor community.
He argued that it would be wastage of resources to invest in infrastructure when there are no people to use them.
He explained that countries that have made strides in economic development first invested in social services including education, and health.
He cited South Korea, and Singapore as countries that first gave much of their population higher education up to 65% of the total population. It is that higher educated group that has created opportunities that have led to the development
“Let’s have the balance right,” he argued.
The Health Workforce Financing report used data from WHO’s Global Health Expenditure Database and Uganda’s National Health Accounts up to 2019.
It focused on health funding in public health hospitals looking at aspects like recruitment of staff, retention of staff, induction of new medical staff, provision of services, and governance. It highlighted the gaps in funding and made recommendations.
Prof. Francis Omaswa, who runs the African Center for Global Health and Social Transformation (ACHEST) as executive director but was director, health services in the Ministry of Health in the early 2000s said per capital expenditure on health has been reducing over the years and this was having impact on the provision of health services.
Dr. Vincent Ojoome, the manager, monitoring and evaluation at ACHEST who presented the findings said the health sector had not attracted proportionate investment from government.
“We have had recruitment and retention challenges,” he said.
Among the recommendations from the report is the call for more domestic resources mobilization and efficient management.
Omaswa said our tax ratio of GDP was one of the lowest and asked the government to explore opportunities of increasing it like health labour externalization where incomes from health workers would be taxed.
The research was carried out by ACHEST in collaboration with Wemos Foundation. It was funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the Health Systems Advocacy Partnership.