Parliament’s Health Committee asks Government to Pay Village Health Teams

The health committee of parliament is proposing to the Ministry of Finance to drop the idea of recruiting Community Health Extension Workers (CHEWs), but rather strengthen the already existing Village Health Teams (VHTs).

In a report that they are yet to share with the Ministry, Dr. Micheal Bukenya who chairs the committee says they are proposing that they come with a small fee to facilitate the already existing personnel than embarking on training senior six leavers.

In the budget proposals currently being discussed in parliament, Shs3billion has been allocated to training of CHEWs but Bukenya says even as they are being rolled out, there is no mechanism of replacing them in case they decide to leave.

He says that the fact that government has banked so much on donors to fund the CHEWS also shows how unsustainable and yet even if VHTs are voluntary they have been around for a long while working.

However, at the annual health promotion conference last year, Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng said government was finalizing training for the first batch of CHEWs and that they will be deployed in the new financial year and the CHEWs were being touted as one of the strategies to help the country achieve universal health coverage. 

The plan by government initially was to recruit 1500 CHEWs deploying two per parish in high disease burden areas of Northern and Eastern Uganda. However, at the conference, Aceng had said after completing the documentation to establish the CHEWs, government was revisiting the process to come up with new strategies on how to effectively have this cadre of health workers in place without having to rely on donors for their facilitation and also not stretching the wage bill. 

Now, the Health Committee is proposing that government retains VHTs but remunerate them copying from the Rwanda model where money is collected through a SACCO. In an interview this morning, Bukenya said with this money, a VHT will earn about Shs150,000. To him, this will not stretch government.  

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Abitegeka Gerald

The News Editor ,Reporter at Kagadi Kibaale community Radio

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