The government of Uganda has come under criticism for failing to live up to its promise of allocating at least five million US dollars for family planning every year.
The criticism stems from a new report which shows that the government released just US$2.2m in the last financial year 2016/2017 despite pledging that it would allocate at least US$5m every year until 2020 in order to ensure better access to family planning (FP) methods for every woman by the year 2020.
In 2012, the government of Uganda committed at what is popularly known as the London FP2020 commitments, that it would allocate at least US$5M every year until 2020, as part of an international campaign to scale-up access to FP to help ensure that every woman is able to have the children they desire.
At the same event donors pledged an additional US$5.2m towards towards Uganda’s FP target, with UNFPA standing out as the biggest contributor with US$4.4m. UNFPA, the USAID and MSI all fulfilled their commitment for FY2016/17 by procuring Family planning commodities worth US$5.22m, according to the latest Reproductive Health/Family Planning Budget Tracking Report for FY2016/17 that was carried by Samasha Medical Foundation.
With support from Partners in Population and Development Africa Regional Office (PD-ARO), Samasha Medical Foundation’s Dr. Moses Muwonge told a meeting this week that lack of adequate funding has led to stock-outs of nearly all family planning commodities at the National Medical Laboratories.
The report shows that for the whole of 2016/17 financial year, NMS didn’t procure any contraceptives on grounds that they had sufficient stock to take the country to the next year.
However, findings by Samasha reveal that NMS only had sufficient stocks for Depo-Provera, a popular FP method preferred by at least 60 percent of Ugandan women.
NMS officials at the meeting indicated the decision was reached in consultation with the Ministry of Health.
This revelation led to criticism from FP stakeholders who argued that government should have invested in procuring alternative contraceptives, especially the longer-lasting contraceptives to prevent the likelihood of a total stock-out of all FP commodities.
Alain Sibenaler, the UNFPA Country Representative in Uganda called for an urgent response to the deficit by expanding the range of FP commodities beyond Depo-Provera to ensure more women are covered.
“The situation of not procuring contraceptives at all in FY 2016/17 could have been avoided is a decision had been made to instruct NMS to procure alternative contraceptive methods that were out of stock for the whole FY2016/17,” said Sibenaler.
He called for increased advocacy and engagement by FP stakeholders including among donors, parliamentarians and district leaders to increase funding for family planning.
Sibenaler stressed the need to scale up access to FP as he cited data showing that nearly one third of all maternal deaths happening in Uganda are a result of failure to access Family Planning services.
He also observed that the advocacy would help Uganda achieve get more donors other that UNFPA and the USAID, who are the major funders of FP programmes.