Interfaith organizations urge Museveni to assent to the National health insurance scheme bill

By Alice Lubwama

Senior religious leaders and interfaith organizations have called upon President Museveni to urgently assent to the National health insurance scheme bill that was recently passed by parliament saying it offers timely services to the majority population in Uganda who cannot afford to pay cash.

In a joint statement issued after a dialogue at Lweza Training and conference center read by the secretary general Uganda Joint Christian Council also from the Orthodox church father Constantine Mbonabingi they said that much as Government tries to provide free health care services a big proportion of health expenditure is meant by individuals who pay cash to the health providers when they seek health care out of pocket.

They say that with the introduction of the health financing system were resources will be pulled in one basket the burden will be spread across the population.

"The National health insurance scheme is the progressive resource pulling mechanism were the rich will subsidize the treatment for the poor." Mbonabingi said.

He said that the bill is important because government spending on health is low and almost stagnant over years at around 7 to 8 percent of the total budget compared to Abujah target of at least 15 percent.

The Assistant executive secretary Uganda Catholic Medical Bureau doctor Kasyaba Ronald said that the bill is important and timely because it will save people from catastrophic expenditures such as selling or mortgaging their properties in order to get money for treatment.

He said that because of the poverty levels the catholic hospitals loses over 70 billion shillings every year to people who escape from hospitals when they fail to pay their bills.

"We need to have the insurance scheme moving so that even the ordinary person can benefit from the pull rather than them escaping." said Kasyaba.

The deputy mufti Uganda Muslim supreme council sheikh Muhammad Ali Waiswa appealed to the president to sign the bill because the scheme is more than needed to save many lives that are crippling yet there are facilities that are under utilized.

The chairperson health committee of parliament Dr Michael Bukenya said that this is not a new concept because the scheme is being implemented in other East African countries including Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania.

"Government is going to invest an extra 700 billion to 1 trillion shillings in the health sector which will be good for all Ugandans." Bukenya said . He added that the this scheme makes it mandatory for the tax payer to access the basic health care in any facility.

"Some people are wondering how Tanzania has moved to the middle income status, insurance is one of the contributory factor because Tanzanians are protected from catastrophic expenditures so they are able to save and invest."

Bukenya said

The presiding apostle of born again churches Dr Joseph Serwadda said the bill is important but people need an assurance that they will not loose the money their will put in the pull for treatment.

The meeting was organized by faith for family health with the intention of agreeing on a call to action for the president to assent to the National health insurance scheme bill.