For Immediate Release: September 15 2015
Contact for more information: Sylvia Nakasi, UNASO: 0703 402 030 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Civil Society Calls on Candidates to Put Health Services at the Heart of Uganda’s 2016 Election Campaigns: No Health No Votes!
Health Sector Manifesto defines 10 Actions Candidates Must Commit to in Order to Rebuild the Health Sector
A nation of sick Ugandans cannot benefit from economic development
(Kampala) A coalition of civil society organizations working for access to essential health services in Uganda today launched the “Uganda Election 2016 Health Manifesto,” a platform demanding all parties and candidates commit to correcting massive failings of the health sector in Uganda to deliver essential, quality prevention and treatment services. This marks the first time civil society organizations will join together to leverage Uganda’s general elections in order to prioritize the health needs and health rights of the Ugandan electorate.
“Access to prevention and treatment are literally life-and-death political issues that should be taking center stage during our 2016 elections,” said Joshua Wamboga, Executive Director of UNASO. “As voters we will not stand by and allow candidates and political parties to be silent about the most vital issue facing our country—our health and our health rights. Using this Health Manifesto, we are demanding that all candidates commit themselves to investing in sufficient medicines, health workers, and in the political required to stop the epidemic of preventable death and disease in our communities.”
The demands contained in the Manifesto include a demand to scale up per capita health financing from current levels (only USD 10.50) to the minimum recommended by WHO (USD 44) by 2021. Other priorities include increasing the remuneration of health workers and the budget for essential medicines as well as confronting high-level corruption that robs Ugandans of life saving health service delivery. “Lack of focus on our health needs by politicians is a disgrace, and we are here to say, ‘no more,’ “ said Rachel Nandelenga of the International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS Eastern Africa (ICWEA). “All candidates seeking elective positions should pronounce themselves on these 10 points. We commit to empowering citizens to choose leaders whose manifestos speak to these demands—we will hold them accountable from the national level right down to the grassroots.”
The coalition pointed out that the most repeated excuse—lack of funding—is not credible, since other priorities receive funding when considered politically beneficial. For example, Parliament received 2 billion shillings to debate during a recent 2-day special sitting; State House spends more than 600 million shillings each day. “As citizens of Uganda our fate is in our hands—every five years we have a special power to raise the bar on health service delivery by making our demands known and making use of our vote. We pledge to do that now,” said Lilian Mworeko, Executive Director of ICWEA.
“We are tired of politicians prioritizing infrastructure and telling us health must wait,” said William Kidega of PATH. “Health cannot wait—not when our public health facilities routinely report stock outs, pregnant women suffer and die of totally preventable causes, and drug-resistant TB is on the rise. Investing in health service delivery means investing in social infrastructure that is the only path to equitable economic development for ordinary Ugandans. This is non-negotiable.”
A recent poll conducted in August 2014 by Columbia University reported that healthcare is the most important issue for Ugandan voters. Across two large public opinion surveys conducted in 2011 and in 2014, voters said healthcare was the most important issue for Parliament to address of these data showed that health, according to voters, is far more important than joblessness, education, or crime (Source: Columbia University 2014).
Uganda’s general election campaigns start October 25. “Between now and the start of general elections we expect all candidates to adopt these 10 points in their manifestos,” said Dennis Odwe of AGHA Uganda. “We will meet with each party individually as well as Independent candidates to deliver this demand.” Civil society members intend to work in key constituencies to support grassroots health rights activists to demand accountability from political candidates, and engage on health crises that have too long gone ignored.