The Ministry of Health has said it needs about sh593b ($162m) to procure sufficient COVID-19 vaccines for all eligible Ugandans.
The health minister, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, told Parliament that although they approved a $5m supplementary budget as upfront payment for an initial 18 million doses targeting frontline workers and vulnerable communities, more money will be needed to vaccinate at least 22 million people for Uganda to achieve herd immunity.
She was responding to concerns raised by MPs led by Kasanda North MP, Patrick Nsamba about the government’s preparedness to ensure that the vaccine is equitably distributed throughout the country.
The ministry on Wednesday started vaccinating health workers and teachers across the country after receiving the first consignment of 964,000 Astrazenca COVID-19 vaccines from the Covax facility and India.
She said that whereas Parliament approved a $5m supplementary as a commitment fee to purchase its own vaccines, the Ministry of Finance has not yet released the money.
“Whereas it is true that we were among the first people to place an order for AstraZeneca vaccines, there is a global scramble for vaccines and our delay in paying the commitment fee has pushed us at the bottom of the list but we shall certainly get our 22 million doses in addition to those that have been donated to us,” said Aceng.
She re-echoed the need for those eligible for the vaccine to get it because it is safe, contrary to reports that AstraZeneca has been rejected by other countries.