Dr Diana Atwine, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health
The government of Uganda has a funding shortfall of 515 billion Shillings to procure nine million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from the Serum Institute of India, URN reports.
A total of 21,952,000 million vaccines are expected to arrive in the country between this week and next year. Of these, 3,958,000 million vaccines are donations from the COVAX facility, India and the People’s Republic of China. The remaining 18 million vaccine doses are going to be procured from the COVAX facility and the Serum Institute of India.
According to the health ministry, the government has allocated 582 billion Shillings towards procuring the AstraZeneca vaccine from the COVAX facility. This means that while Uganda has ordered vaccines from the Serum Institute of India, no money has been paid.
To be able to vaccinate all eligible Ugandans, the country needs 1 trillion Shillings for the procurement of vaccines, transport and other logistics to vaccinate 49 per cent of the country’s population aged 18 and above. But Prof Freddie Ssengooba, a public health financial analyst says that if the government can vaccinate at least 80 per cent of the population, the remaining 20 per cent would be protected by default.
Ssengooba says that the government will have to rely on either donations or supplementary budgets to be able to raise the remaining funds. “We have received some donations but these might not be enough to vaccinate everyone. So we are likely going to depend on getting a supplementary budget to be able to afford to buy other vaccines just as the case for the money we have now,” he explains.
Dr Diana Atwine, the permanent secretary of the health ministry says that the government is looking for external funding. If Uganda fails to get the money from external sources, Atwine says government will have to look for the money to be able to fund the vaccination project.
“At the moment we do not have all the money we need. What we have covered a small portion of our vaccine order. We have not yet sent the manufacturers of the vaccine any money but we have presented our need for financing to the finance ministry and we believe that they are looking for where the money can be gotten,” she said.
On whether the late submission will affect the timelines set for vaccination, Atwine said it was hard to tell.
“We have planned to carry out vaccination in a phased manner with high-risk groups being vaccinated first then other people come. But this plan is open to change. We shall vaccinate people depending on the availability of vaccines,” Atwine added.