Ugandan Parliament Must Focus On Current Health Priorities For Better Recovery Of The National Economy Amidst The Covid-19 Pandemic.

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Ugandan Parliament Must Focus On Current Health Priorities For Better Recovery Of The National Economy Amidst The Covid-19 Pandemic.

Like many other countries worldwide, Uganda has grappled with the COVID 19 pandemic and its aftermath since 2019. The health sector, amongst others, has suffered the most in several ways. This pandemic exposed not only the strengths of our health system but also its weaknesses. During the fight against this pandemic, many challenges have been highlighted, including the limited resources for the health workforce, including supplies such as Personal Protective Equipment and vaccines. With this shortage, the government extended a call to its citizens to contribute logistical support towards fighting the pandemic. However, despite the claim of inadequate resources to support government programs, parliamentarians continue to engage in self privileged practices at the expense of their constituents, such as the most recent approval of a one-time bulky sum of Shs 200M for each of the newly elected 539 MPs, cabinet and ex officials to purchase brand new cars even when some of them still had official functional vehicles, in addition to the ambiguous monthly allowances allocations. Not long after that decision, Parliament approved rental office space at the Kampala Kingdom building, in the heart of Kampala worth Shs. 9.8b per year for a whole year. This money would have been arguably enough to construct Parliament a permanent workspace.

Furthermore, over Shs 50B from the supplementary budget was approved as relief funds for vulnerable Ugandans during the pandemic. The government was to provide a total of Shs. 100,000 or USD 30 to each beneficiary through mobile money services to a tune of at least 501,107 beneficiaries who had previously earned daily from some form of work but were currently staying home due to the lockdown. Although more than 6000 citizens were estimated to have received money twice, over 8000 recipients could not be traced in the database of beneficiaries. 

In the face of COVID-19, vaccination has been the scientific mode of reducing disease severity and mortality alongside emphasizing other preventive measures such as hand hygiene, wearing masks, and social distancing. However, Uganda has administered at least 3,269,568 doses of the donated COVID vaccines from richer countries across the globe, translating to about 3.7% of the country's population.  

To date, the healthcare workforce comprising the unsung heroes & heroines in the fight against Covid19 are grieved about their unpaid allowances and are threatening to strike if their concerns are not addressed. This puts the lives of Ugandans seeking healthcare at risk of disease severity and preventable deaths.

Other chronic healthcare challenges are notwithstanding; the education system has been paralyzed with students suffocating on unfamiliar online learning strategies disproportionately favoring a few families majorly in urban settings that can afford to purchase data bundles. This is inaccessible and compromised by the 12% mandatory taxation on the internet as approved by the Parliament of the Republic of Uganda.

Such scenarios portray the sub-optimal performance of our legislators and highlight the egocentric nature of the majority of parliamentarians, which further prompts us to examine our MPs' efforts towards taking Uganda's crumbling economy, especially during the  COVID-19 pandemic period, to Her Middle - Income status.

We, therefore, demand to see patriotic decision-makers deliberate with sound judgment to better the livelihoods of Ugandan citizens. We urge them to focus and deliver on the national mandate according to their roles as parliamentarians, namely legislation, oversight, budget approval/appropriation, and holding consultative meetings within their constituents. We challenge them to secure our future and for the generations to come well, knowing that health is wealth.


Authors: Aidah Nanvuma, Elicana Nduhuura, & Jonathan Nkalubo

Members of the Social Medicine Consortium, Uganda Chapter.

Corresponding email:

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