In an announcement made during the Uganda National Conference on Health, a Ministry of Health official, Dr. Sarah Byakika, unveiled a proposal that would require every adult in Uganda to contribute to the National Health Insurance Scheme. The proposal aims to address concerns raised by key stakeholders, including employers who considered the contributions as double taxation.
Under the proposed changes, individuals, rather than employers, will be responsible for their contributions, with rates based on income bands. Dr. Byakika emphasized that regardless of income, every Ugandan above the age of 18 must participate in the scheme. While acknowledging the challenges of collecting contributions from all eligible individuals, the government’s specific methods were not detailed.
The priorities highlighted for Uganda at the conference include strengthening community-led interventions, forming multi-sectoral collaborations to address social determinants of health, and improving access to quality healthcare services throughout life. Uganda also intends to increase investments in health infrastructure, medical products, technology, and healthcare worker capacity.
Dr. Elizabeth Mugambe, representing the World Health Organization (WHO) at the conference, stressed the legal obligation of countries to ensure timely, accessible, and affordable healthcare as a fundamental human right. WHO expressed its commitment to assisting member states in integrating human rights into policies and programs to achieve universal health coverage and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
It’s worth noting that Uganda currently lacks a national health insurance policy, leading many citizens to struggle with high medical expenses, sometimes necessitating the sale of assets to cover bills. A bill introducing a national health insurance scheme was passed by parliament in 2021 but was later withdrawn by the government due to identified gaps that required further consultation with stakeholders.