Wednesday, March 30, 2016

New Partnership to strengthen health systems in Uganda, Kenya and Zambia

By Esther Nakkazi

Maternal mortality and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) have been on the international agenda for many years, but the goal to reduce maternal mortality ratio by 75% percent remains elusive.

A five year project 30 million Euro project implemented at global and regional level as well as country level in Uganda, Kenya and Zambia hinging on this fact that now aims to reverse this trend.

The project focusses on strengthening the health system in order to realise a breakthrough, said Dr. Tim Reed from Health Action International.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) six interlinked and mutually reinforcing building blocks together make up the health system: human resources for health, health commodities, governance, financing, information and service delivery.

However, this project will focus on two building blocks; human resource for health, which entails increasing the availability and accessibility of skilled health workers. Human resource is essential in retaining equity and social justice.

As well as enhancing the availability of affordable medicines and family planning commodities to ensure that communities; women, girls and vulnerable groups have access to contraception and safe pregnancy, delivery and neonatal care.

“A multi prolonged approach is required to strengthen the perspective of availability and affordability of medicines,” said Dr. Emmanuel Higenyi from Joint Medical Stores.

The project will work through a partnership which comprises of Amref Health Africa, the African Center for Global Health and Social Transformation (ACHEST), Health Action International (HAI), Wemos Foundation funded by the Danish Ministry for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation as well as Health promotion and social development (HEPS-Uganda).

The different partners will have diverse roles: Amref will handle HRH and reproductive health commodities advocacy interventions at community or district level. ACHEST will handle SRHR and Health system governance advocacy aimed at national, regional and global levels. HEPS-Uganda will do advocacy around reproductive health commodities at national level.

The partnership will work to achieve outcomes by following two interconnected strategies that go beyond influencing policies and aim for sustainable social changes as well as changes in the entire SRH sector.

The overall goal of the project is to enable communities to realise their right to the highest attainable sexual and reproductive health impact said Patricia Vermeulen from Amref Health Africa, Netherlands.

She said the project aims to contribute to achieving Sexual and reproductive health rights by training and creating space for a civil society to engage effectively with governments, the private sector and other stakeholders accountable for health systems, deliver equitable, accessible and high quality SRHR services.

Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, director general, Health Services at Uganda Ministry of Health said it will be good for civil society to be trained so that they do not take government to court without real evidence.

She cited the case of when civil society took government took government to court in 2011 because of a maternal death.

“We are excited it is building the capacity of civil society so that when they are lobbying they know how the government systems work.”

Dr. Francis Omaswa the director ACHEST said Uganda has well designed health plans however, implementation still remains an issue. He said communities should be empowered to demand for services from the health sector.

He ended with his signature phrase ‘health is made at home and repaired in health facilities.’


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