The Director Special Projects and Resource Mobilization at ACHEST, Prof Francis Omaswa, was the Keynote speaker at retreat organized by the Ministry of Health for all the partners in the community health space in Uganda that took place on October 3rd to 7th 2022 in Kalangala, District under the theme “ADVANCING REALIGNMENT OF COMMUNITY HEALTH SYSTEMS IN UGANDA”. Prof. Omaswa emphasized that in order to achieve alignment it was essential for Government and Partners to operate under the “Three Ones” namely: One Work Plan, One Implementation Plan and One Monitoring and Evaluation Plan. Implementation should be led by the country while Resources can come from multiple sources and monitoring is undertaken jointly.
There was unanimity in the meeting that strong community health systems which are people centered and led working with community health workers (CHWs) have enormous potential to achieve UHC with available resources.
In his message, Prof. Omaswa talked about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
He further emphasized on the Sustainable Development Goals and UHC: Achieved through UHC that “leaves no one behind” so that “All people obtain the good-quality essential health services they need without enduring financial hardship”. He reminded the meeting of the Alma Ata Declaration that the existing gross inequality in the health status of the people, particularly between developed and developing countries as well as within countries, is politically, socially, and economically unacceptable. The people have a right and duty to participate individually and collectively in the planning and implementation of their health care.
Prof. Omaswa, who is also the former Director-General Health Services in the Ministry of Health reminded the partners about his message “Health is made at home: Health is made at home and only repaired in health facilities when it breaks down. Be clean, eat well, and do not share accommodation with animals. This is a message from the Director General of Health Services” (Omaswa 1999- 2005).
In the presence of the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health Uganda Dr. Diana Atwine, Prof. Omaswa pointed out the issue of Political Will and Public Will for Managing Social Change: To achieve success, the government and large segments of the public must be willing to recognize the problem, understand the problem in a similar way, and agree on solutions. Also embedding Health in Governance should be the correct way to go as routine governance of society should be the foundation of the health system this by ensuring that laws, regulations and good practice are complied with by all.
Speaking at the retreat, Prof. Omaswa shared the lessons learnt while working with VHTs in the four districts of Mukono, Busia, Ngora and Amuru where ACHEST has been implementing community engagement activities before and during COVID-19:
• Organized Communities capable of owning and taking responsibility for their health and achieving Social Cohesion through regular Community dialogue sessions - “Ainapakina”.
• Organized communities improve relations with the health facilities and the performance of the community health system and PHC
• Equipping, training, supervising and paying VHTs (CHWs) is essential for them to perform their roles effectively.
• District health plans should be developed and implemented using bottom-up and “three ones” approach. Integration with PDM.
• District Health performance benefits from regular Supportive Supervision from the Center
In conclusion Prof. Omaswa made a call to action and an appeal to the participants that “Unless we in Uganda, Individually and Collectively feel the pain and the shame of poor Health Services, we will not have the Commitment to take the needed Actions to correct our Situation”. Do we care as public servants and employees of Partner organizations?.
Compiled by Charles Imalingat Information Technology and Communications Specialist, ACHEST