A year after the Honourable Minister for Health Dr Elioda Tunwesigye, inaugurated the THET Partnership Office in Kampala, Uganda, Paul Ahura, Ugandan Country Director reflects on the successes of international collaboration and the health advances made.
With so many positive impact stories, strengthened partnerships and improvements in the Ugandan health system to report on in the last year, it is difficult to filter through them to pick out just a few to mention!
One of the core elements that has struck me during the last year is just how willing everyone is to share knowledge and collaborate. From the Ministry of Health to UK partners, and from GHE to health workers, the links between us all have just continued to go from strength to strength.
As always one of THET’s key priorities is to ensure our alignment with national strategies and need and thus our work in Uganda begun through the close collaboration with and commitment to priorities outlined by the Ministry of Health. Through our relationships with the Ministries working groups, from maternal and child health to NCDs, we have been able to build and foster relationships between them and their corresponding health partnerships. This has really proved crucial in ensuring the training is continually aligned with the country’s needs, whilst also allowing a sharing of expertise between frontline health workers and Ministers. A prime example of this is the work done in partnership by the Royal College of Midwives and the Uganda Private Midwives Association, which as a result of the quality of their training tools the Ministry has adopted as a national toolkit – improving midwifery skills and care throughout Uganda.
I have also thoroughly enjoyed working with the Global Health Exchange (GHE) and the Uganda-UK Health Alliance (UUKHA) which we hosted in the THET Office. The Alliance has gone from strength to strength and is now hosted within the Ministry of Health, fostering links between over 200 partners. Richard, Uganda Country Programme Coordinator, has written a great piece on the future ambitions of the Alliance (to read it please click here).
Government recognition has also been gained for the work partnerships have been carrying out on medical equipment and the training of Community Health Workers (CHW), both of which have been neglected global health themes but remain crucial in the endeavour to reach UHC, particularly in low and middle income countries. From the Biomedical Engineering Conference which proved a key tool in allowing recognition of the profession to increase, to the increasing concern and awareness of hospital management with the essential nature of medical equipment maintenance. CHWs came to the fore through another event, the CHW Symposium. During the two-day conference it was clear that the shared learning agenda of THET was invaluable in allowing cross-border collaboration and for driving policy work forwards.
Overall I am really proud of the work THET and its varied partners have achieved in the last year. Being Country Director in its first year of activity has been so interesting and I only hope that the future of the office is as bright as the last year has been.
We have worked hard to develop our management capacity, working with UK partners looking to establish projects in Uganda and helping them to align with governmental priorities whilst listening to the needs of health workers is something I hope only continues to grow.
Country Director - Uganda