UGANDAN GOVT TO INTRODUCE STUDENT LOANS FOR TERTIARY HEALTH INSTITUTIONS

KAMPALA, The Ugandan government is to introduce loans for students of private tertiary health institutions, State Minister for Health, Dr. Chris Baryomunsi has said.

The Minister made the disclosure while commissioning the Private Health Training Institutions Association held at Fairway Hotel in Kampala.

The science conference was conducted under the theme: Quality health training for achievement of sustainable development goals (SDGs): The role of private health training institutions in Uganda.

"We have already created loan schemes for private students joining universities. I will also engage the Ministry of education and government so that the request is tabled in parliament next year to have tertiary health students who cannot afford school fees are supported," he promised.

The funds are meant to advance money to needy students in all local governments. Part of the funds will also be used to enhance development of staffs.

The minister stressed that training in the field of health is important as far as development is concerned. "Roads can be repaired but the mistake you make when treating a patient may not be reversed".

Plans to introduce loans for Ugandan university students date back to 1990. Initially, the plan was to give loans to Government-sponsored students to meet their living cost. But consultants hired by the Government recommended that loans with subsidised interest rates be given to the best performing private students.

Student loan schemes have been established in at least 50 countries around the world. In Africa, they exist in Ghana, South Africa, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania. In most schemes, students only start paying back once they have graduated and found a job.

However, many schemes are marred by high administrative costs and high default rates. They struggle to strike a balance between assisting needy students and ensuring financial sustainability.

Through the fund, young graduates will get loans to start income-generating activities as part of tackling youth unemployment, the minister said.

The Government also pledged to provide research and capacity building fund to enhance quality health training to students who practice medicine and a favorable environment for borrowing bank loans at reduced interest rate from Uganda Development bank (UDB).

The Government further promised to grant tax holiday on school motor-vehicle and medicine equipments for private health training institutions.

Wilton Sebastian Kezala, the Ugandan Private Health Training Institutions Association (UPHTIA) chairman said that the private health institutions face challenges of inadequate number and quality of tutors.

He said the institute has advocated for and promoted research and innovation activities and health practices that contributes to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Uganda.

The association was established and registered by the registrar of companies in October 2014.

Kezala also pointed out that the institution has plans of establishing regional incubation (simulation) centers for

innovation of skills-laboratory equipment and models for training health professionals.

SOURCE: NEW VISION

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