Members of Parliament have decried the delayed response of the government in handling the Hepatitis B outbreak in the country.
The issue was raised by Hon. Elijah Okupa (Kasiro County) who said that there were still a number of people who were suffering from the disease while others were dying in some parts of the country.
“I visited the health centre four in my constituency to take my sick mother for treatment and I found a number of people suffering from Hepatitis B. Now, my own sister contracted the disease and I wonder what happened to the vaccines the Ministry Health promised to us,” Okupa said.
Okupa further said that the issue of the Hepatitis B had been raised a while back in Parliament and funds were gazetted to avail vaccines to the entire population.
However, the State Minister for Primary Healthcare, Sarah Opendi said that the Ministry was underfunded to combat Hepatitis B through the vaccination of citizens. “We did not get enough funding as we had sought from the Ministry of Finance to expeditiously handle the issue,” Opendi said.
In response, the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Matia Kasaija said that the Ministry of Health had failed to absorb money allocated to it. “It appears that the Ministry of Health was not able to receive all the money for the exercise because their accounting officer failed to provide accountability for money earlier allocated for the exercise,” Kasaija said.
Hon. Jacob Oboth Oboth (West Budama), in response to the Minister of Finance said that the Hepatitis outbreak was a matter of life and death that needed to be handled expeditiously. “We cannot honestly argue about accountability when we have people suffering from the disease who need urgent medical attention,” Oboth said.
In addition, Hon. David Bahati, the State Minister of Finance for Planning requested the Deputy Speaker, Rt. Hon. Jacob Oulanyah for time to reconcile the matter and return to the House with a statement.
“Some of the issues being raised by the Minister of Finance that there is no accountability from the Ministry of Health are factual,” Bahati said.
The Deputy Speaker directed that the Ministers go back and reconcile the differences and return with clear information to Parliament.
“We need action on this matter because Hepatitis B has been a problem for a while so please reconcile and give us feedback on Thursday,” Oulanyah told the ministers.
Members of Parliament initially raised the matter of the Hepatitis B outbreak on Wednesday 16th March 2016, expressing their disappointment in the failure by the government to produce a statement on the Hepatitis B outbreak.
Hon. Joy Atim Ongom (Lira) argued at the time that the Parliament had dedicated special funding in addition to the Annual Budget to handle the issue of Hepatitis B, but there was not much being visibly done to curb the outbreak of the disease.