The Ministry of Health has suspended primary healthcare funding to 196 health facilities that do not meet the requirements of a not-for-profit private facility.
Government has been supporting private health facilities since 2001 with non-wage and development grants of 2.1 billion shillings annually. The support is intended to cover health service delivery gaps in areas where public health facilities are lacking or the level of existing facility is not effectively providing health care services to the community.
Health minister Dr Ruth Aceng says some of the health facilities do not meet the eligibility criteria as per the provisions of the primary health care grant guidelines. She says that although the health facilities were registered as private not for profit, they are actually private for profit and have been benefiting.
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Some of the affected include health centres Bikone health centre Two in Kasese, Malugulya Health Unit in Kamuli, Burora Health centre Two in Kanungu, Mawagala health centre Two in Iganga, Gulu Independent Hospital in Gulu, and Lazebu health centre Two in Arua among others.
Aceng says that there could be an error that led to the acceptance of the facilities as not for profit.
There were a total of 890 health facilities including hospitals and health centre IV, III and II that were benefitting, but because of the suspension, only 694 will continue getting funding.
Aceng says some of the health facilities are not registered and certified by the National NGO Board as not-for-profit; not accredited by a recognized body and approved by Director General of health services. The minister says some are not strategically located in an area serving the rural population, or being the only service provider in the area, and are not supervised and audited by Government bodies.
The minister notes that some health centres have not reported utilization data to the Ministry of Health for the last two years, have no evidence of involvement in the community and are not licensed by the medical council.
Aceng says the suspension will only be lifted if the facilities meet the criteria after verification. She says this will save government from putting the 2.1 billion to waste.
Acting permanent secretary, Ronald Ssegawa, says the suspension of funding will not affect the community since the health centers have been charging highly, but also because there are other health facilities that members of that community can use.