Success! Campaigning to change Uganda’s health budget
By Kenneth Kabagambe, Executive Director of The National Organization of People Living with Hepatitis B (NOPLHB).
Hepatitis B affects an estimated three and a half million people in Uganda – around 10% of the population. The National Organization of People Living with Hepatitis B (NOPLHB) was established in 2011, and is a patient driven, non-profit organization which works to increase awareness, and reduce stigma surrounding Hepatitis B in Uganda.
We do this by:
- Coordinating national activities, aimed at informing the general public about the threat of the disease to the economy
- Running awareness campaigns, workshops and patient counselling
- Working with the Ministry of Health and other key health global partners to raise the profile and priority given
- Working with community organizations to help ensure that they have effective communication strategies and proper counselling skills
- Providing community outreach and offering free Hepatitis B services
We have been a member of IAPO since 2014, and through our membership have increased our profile, and thus our voice, in Uganda.
Campaigning for change
On 27 March 2015, NOPLHB organized a charity walk to call the attention of the public to the importance of Hepatitis B. The walk was attended by the Prime Minister of Uganda; the Minister and other delegates from the Ministry of Health; Members of Parliament; and the Chinese Ambassador.
Additionally, we held a media campaign, including a press conference, to raise and strengthen the profile of NOPLHB and our campaign. The event was covered by national television stations including NBS TV, Record TV, UBC TV, and Top TV; and the written press release was featured in one of Uganda’s leading daily newspapers.
As a result of the walk, we are delighted to report that the Ministry of Health included Hepatitis B in its budget for the financial year 2015–16, for the first time.
To ensure that Hepatitis B remains on the political agenda, and in future health budgets, NOPLHB will approach Members of Parliament whose constituencies are particularly affected. We will extend our awareness campaigning work further to support this, as well as extending the availability of screening, including Members of Parliament themselves.