Open Contracting for universal healthcare; Which way Uganda?

The health sector is one of the key sectors in Uganda and is one of the most funded sectors after Works and Transport, Education and Energy. Over the last three financial years, the budgetary allocation for the health sector has steadily increased. In financial year 2018-2019, the budget for Uganda increased by 26 % from 1.87 trillion in 2017-2018 to 2.36 trillion which is about 7.2 % of the national budget that year..

Government procurement  is regulated under the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act 2003 and Regulations of 2014. The key procurement for the sector include medicines, sundries and medical consumables. The sector also carries out other procurement such as stationery, consultancy services and construction work.

The PPDA Act was passed in 2003 and a key reform was to decentralize procurement. The law was revised in 2014. The most recent reforms have been a move towards e-procurement. The Government has created a Government Procurement Portal (GPP) used by public sector entities to enter data on government procurement. The information covers all procurement phases and includes the procurement process, bidders involved in the bid the contract price, whether or not the procurement is completed, etc. The aim of this information is to ensure transparency in public procurement and the monitoring of public procurement by stakeholders. PPDA uses the information entered into the system to assess public procurement and make relevant recommendations.

According to the Analysis of Health Sector Procurement Data in Uganda,In the financial year 2018/19, the sector entries accounted for 7.1% of all the data in terms of number and 1.4% in terms of value. As compared to the budgetary allocation the sector is not entering all the data that it is required to enter on the GPP.

When it comes to competition under public procurement, the higher the number of participants the higher the chances of attaining value for money.  Competition between bidders results in better prices and better quality. Lack of competition leads to higher prices and therefore no value for money.

Taxpayers would like to see competitively priced contracts which can only be achieved when there is maximum competition. PPDA recommends that there should be at least three bidders for every procurement in order to ensure competition and hence value for money.

In order to ensure improvements in the procurement processes in the health sector it is recommended that:

  1. The Ministry of Health and respective entities should comply with disclosure obligations by publishing procurement information on the GPP in a timely manner
  2. The government should build confidence among bidders by reassuring bidders of fair competition, explaining processes, publishing procurement information on the GPP and other spaces.
  3. Reduce the number of contracts awarded under among non competitive methods
  4. Address inefficiency in procurement by making sure there is adequate staffing, training and proper facilitation
  5. Ensure qualified competent firms are awarded contracts 6. Strengthen supervision of awarded contracts to ensure timely completion

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