Health Expenditure Shocks Worsened Household Poverty Amidst COVID-19 in Uganda

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Mpuuga, Dablin
Nakijoba, Sawuya
Yawe, Bruno L.
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African Economic Research Consortium
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic a lot changed regarding health care financing, both globally and nationally – in Uganda. Households faced unprecedented economic constraints and were forced to make hard expenditure choices including whether and how to spend on health care. Relatedly, the number of poor Ugandans increased from eight million in 2016/17 to 8.3 million in 2019/20, but it was still not clear how much of this impoverishment can be attributed to health xpenditure shocks amidst the pandemic. In addition, Uganda has consistently fallen short on living up to the 2001 Abuja Declaration expectations of allocating at least 15% of her national budget each year to improving the healthcare system. The size of the health sector budget has been less than half of the declaration requirement for the past five years (see Figure 1). More precisely, the health sector budget as a share of the total budget and GDP has averaged 6.4% and 1.9% respectively in the financial years 2018/19 to 2022/23. The absence of a national health insurance scheme implies that a huge health care financing burden, is borne by the households who pay for health care directly by out-of-pocket payments (OOPs).