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Minister Aceng Challenges Ugandans On Sanitation, Donors On Accountability

The minister of health Dr Jane Ruth Aceng has challenged Ugandans and health workers on matters sanitation and hygiene saying there is no need for development partners and donors to bring money to Uganda to educate Ugandans on how to prevent diseases such as cholera and others caused by poor sanitation and hygiene

Speaking as chief guest at the 1st ever National Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Conference in Kampala today, Aceng said Uganda is well positioned to move towards achieving universal health coverage if it is not left to only Ministry of health.

“It should not only be left to the Ministry of health. Every one of us is responsible. We should not be talking about sanitation and hygiene in the 21st century. Every time I have to go to parliament and I am asked to talk about cholera. How can you go and talk about faeces in parliament? Because you leave a toilet and don’t wash your hands and you want people to come from the U.S to give us money and teach us about cholera? It’s embarrassing,” she said

The minister noted that sanitation doesn’t need civil education but should be known by everyone irrespective of the level of education.

She challenged health workers on the same issue.

“Do we need to tell you to sweep your compound? When you talk about rubbish and dirty compounds, go to staff quarters of health workers. The grass is taller than you, there is nowhere to pass. You have to first beat the grass so that you can move and reach their homes; and when you reach, there is sweet potato peels, matooke peels. These are health workers. Have you not been taught health education and disease prevention?”

The minister on the other hand called on development partners to ensure transparency and accountability

“We need transparency in health. We are not hiding anything. That is why as Ministry of health we always display our budget to the partners and say this is what we have. Yes, it is little but can you partners also be transparent to us so that we know how much goes into your overhead cost and how much you put in actual health activities? Just saying we have put millions of dollars is not enough for us. You need to be accountable to us if we are accountable to you. That is my humble appeal”

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She noted that for Uganda to move towards universal health coverage, partners need to give information clearly for the Ministry to harmonize.

“You need to do that so that we are able to account to every dollar that comes into this country on Health and then we can own results together not in a fragmented way but in a holistic way and we rise up every year and say this is how much we invested, this is what our performance is like without pointing fingers” she noted

The Minister further stressed the issue of national insurance scheme which she said must be mandatory and factor in health promotion and disease prevention for the best basic services.

“Everybody must pay. Husband and wife must pay separately because they fall sick separately” she added

Dr. Yonas Tegegn, the World Health Organization (WHO) representative to Uganda said health must be a human right if universal health coverage is to be achieved.

“We didn’t achieve as much as expected in millennium development goals. To make health a human right, we have to depend on primary health care and that is the only way to make a World we all want,” said Tegegn

To achieve universal health coverage, he emphasized educating the citizens about health promotion, health insurance among others.

“Health is undervalued so we need to remind the population why it matters. We need to promote health in all policies. Primary health care is a root of universal health coverage and the biggest drive will be health promotion”

The conference was held under the theme “investing in health promotion and disease prevention to achieve universal health coverage.

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