Reproductive health Voucher project fails, poor mothers miss out

By Deo Wasswa

A new report shows that the Uganda Reproductive Health Voucher project funded by world bank in Uganda failed to extend maternal health services to the vulnerable groups as expected.

The USD 1.7 million Voucher project intended to provide essential maternal services to the less privileged, but instead it promoted discrimination and didn’t serve for the purpose.

Through the project, the less privileged were entitled to access Vouchers in which they would receive a coupon that a mother can exchange for specified services from an approved health facility.

Field research conducted by initiative for social and economic rights (ISER) between November 2019 and March 2020 found that in areas where the project was present,68% of the beneficiaries were either middle class or rich and only 32% could be classified as poor.

Further the report shows that some mothers were paying upto 100,000 Uganda shillings to access Vouchers instead of 4000 shillings.

The project also favored private health facilities as service providers raising a question about whether this the most effective use of money.

Salima Namusobya, the executive director ISER says even the districts selected for the project are not among those ones with poorest communities.

In western Uganda the project covered districts like Kiruhura, Mbarara, Ibanda, Rubirizi, Mitooma, Isingiro, Ntungamo among others.

She further noted that the private health facilities forced many pregnant women to undergo C-section in order to claim much money from project funders.

The Uganda Reproductive health Voucher scheme has a number of Actors including World Bank, Government of Uganda, Marie stopes as the Voucher Management agency, Village health teams as Voucher distributors.