UGANDA— Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and the World Health Organisation, have joined up to support the more than 8.3 million in Busoga region through the Health System Strengthening Project.

The US$10 million dollars funding ($9 million from KOICA and $1 million from WHO), will enable the Ministry of Health Uganda to improve key interventions in the region.

The project involves funding projects to improve the Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child, and Adolescent Health (RMNCA+H) services project in five districts of the region that are Buyende, Bugiri, Kamuli, Iganga, and Mayuge.

The five-year project focuses on strengthening the health system for improved health outcomes in the Busoga region with key interventions including the provision of an ambulance to each district.

Specifically, the project aims to improve health governance and administrative capacity, strengthen the health information system in Busoga Region, and improve infrastructure and medical equipment for maternal and child health.

Additionally, the project will enhance the capacity of health workers and quality of care and provide Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights information among adolescents and teachers.

Urgent funding for emergency care for mothers and child in Busoga

WHO Uganda reports that in many parts of the Busoga region boda bodas (motorcycles) are used in transporting patients with medical emergencies requiring specialized care.

This included pregnant women with pregnancy–related complications requiring emergency specialized care being transported either from their homes to entry-level health centers or from lower-level health facilities to higher ones.

This practice placed mothers and their unborn babies at risk of being involved in road accidents, which are prevalent with boda-bodas.

The ambulances are to facilitate the safe transportation of patients requiring emergency specialized care, including pregnant women.

Improving the referral system was critical in this region because some of the entry health centers are not equipped to handle complications such as excessive bleeding, and high blood pressure before and after delivery.

For babies, resuscitation facilities aren’t always readily available and the distance between various levels of care can be challenging; sometimes as far as 60km from the nearest Health Centre II or III to the more specialized Health Centre IV or General Hospital.

In two of the project districts that currently do not have General Hospitals, boda bodas were the easiest form of transport for emergency conditions despite the risks attached to them.

The risks were not just about the rough terrain. If one was to use a boda boda, they ought to have had money to pay for the fares. The health centers simply referred the patients and our job ended at that,” explains Dr. Fredrick Isabirye, the Buyende District Health Officer (DHO).

Dr. Geofrey Kasaizaki, the Senior Medical Officer at Nankoma Health Centre IV in Bugiri District recounts the many mothers and their babies lost in transit from the health facility to the hospital where they had been referred before the district received an ambulance.

KOICA engagement in Uganda is aimed at supporting maternal and child health services and the local health system with a special focus on girls’ health.

The Korean organization also supports the expansion of health facilities, capacity building of health personnel, and efficiency of the medical delivery system to increase access to health services.

Health system strengthening in Uganda

The World Bank has been the leading partner in Health system strengthening in the country.

The objective of the Health Systems Strengthening Project is to deliver the Uganda National Minimum Health Care Package (UNMHCP) to Ugandans.

Moreso, with a focus on maternal health, newborn care, and family planning that will be achieved through improving human resources for health, physical health infrastructure, and management, leadership, and accountability for health service delivery.

The project has cost an estimated US$130 million that was facilitated by the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank since 2010.

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