UN, National Women’s Council Call for Health Insurance Scheme

The National Health Insurance Bill, 2019 is currently before Parliament but recent media reports indicated that government was considering withdrawing it following disagreements between various stakeholders including the private sector, National Social Security Fund (NSSF) and different insurance regulatory authorities.
UN Resident Cordinator Rosa Malango during the press confrence at Uganda Media Center

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The United Nations Resident Coordinator, Rosa Malango has called for the immediate enactment of the National Health Insurance Bill, 2019 by the 10th Parliament saying that this will help empower Uganda’s women more.

Malango was this afternoon speaking at an event in State House, Entebbe commemorating the International Women’s Day 2021. The day’s event presided over by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni was commemorated under the theme; Building on Women’s Strength for a Better Future in the Covid-19 World.

“We call on the 10th Parliament to prioritize into law some of the pending Bills including the National Health Insurance Bill, Pensions Bill, Minimum Wage Bill and Legal Aid Bill,” said Malango.

Her call came shortly after a demand by the Faridah Kimbowa, the Chairperson of the National Women’s Council who said that Health Insurance Scheme should be considered to enable Ugandans access specialized treatment at a minimal cost.

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The National Health Insurance Bill, 2019 is currently before Parliament. But recent reports indicate that government was considering withdrawing it following disagreements between various stakeholders including the private sector, National Social Security Fund (NSSF) and different insurance regulatory authorities.

Last month, Dr. Moriku Kaducu, the Minister of State for Health (Primary Health Care) said that following a meeting with the President and other stakeholders, it was established that there were disagreements on contribution and benefits of the Bill, which are core objectives of the scheme.

According to the Bill, all Ugandans above 18 years will be required to contribute to the scheme before accessing health services across the country. It also proposes a 4% deduction on salaries of employees in the formal sector while their employers will contribute 1% to the health scheme. Individuals in the informal sector are proposed to pay 100, 000 Shillings annually.

Meanwhile, Malango described the women’s day commemoration as an opportunity to reflect on the progress in regard to recognizing and promoting women leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the role in addressing its social economic impact.

“The 1995 Constitution under Article 33 provides for the protection of women and their rights. The advancement of women’s rights also relies on gender responsive policies such as the Employment Act No.6, the Uganda Gender Policy and the National Policy on Elimination of Gender Based Violence. We must work together to increase awareness and support implementation,” she said.

Malango noted that this is the first commemoration of Women’s Day since the COVID-19 pandemic which she said exacerbated gender inequalities and increased violence in homes. She said that there is need for a concerted effort to improve the social economic status of women and girls by eliminating all forms of violence and harmful practices including child marriages and Female Genital Mutilation –FGM.

She says that this is necessary if women are to continue participating in Uganda’s governance, development and democratic journey.

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Malango also called for a change in perceptions by communities and transformation of social norms, behavior and gender stereo types that perpetuate discrimination, violence and inequality.

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According to a Uganda Police Report, a total of 16,242 cases of Gender Based Violence-GBV were reported between January and June 2020 and National Women Council’s Faridah Kimbowa says that the figures have proven that GBV is a threat to humanity especially women and girls.

“It is our humble request to the President that the government considers increasing funding toward Gender Based Violence prevention and response at all levels,” she appealed.

Speaking about government’s social economic empowerment initiatives of women, Kimbowa also appealed for increased funding for the Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Program – UWEP to enable them recapitalize struggling businesses for women.

“Women report to have been hit hard by Covid-19 in their enterprises, they are closing businesses after losing their capital,” she said.

According to Kimbowa, out of the 585 billion Shillings expected in UWEP from 2015 to 2020, only 107 billion translating in 18.3 percent was released by government.

UWEP is an initiative of the Government of Uganda that is aimed at improving access to financial services for women and equipping them with skills for enterprise growth, value addition and marketing of their products and services.    

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