CSO Stakeholder Round Table Dialogue On Promoting Community Participation To Improve Uganda’s PHC systems
On the 3rd of May 2021, Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum (UYAHF) in partnership with PATH Uganda, Population Action International, and the Ministry of Health organized a half-day CSO dialogue to discuss strategies and share experiences on the promotion of community participation in Uganda’s Health care service delivery approach and policy framework in Kampala at Fairway hotel
The half-day round table dialogue attended by 40 (F=17, M= 23), stakeholders from Academia, CSOs, and CBOs at grassroots, district, and National level, and young people aimed at nurturing space for coordination, collaboration, sharing experience and learning from each other on what CSOs are doing to promote community participation in primary healthcare and delivery of essential and quality health care services to communities, building capacity of CSOs on Uganda’s PHC policy framework and service delivery approach at the sub-national level and creating a platform for communities to amplify voices and share their experiences and needs with access to primary health care services.
In his remarks, Mr. Mwesigye Patrick the Team leader at UYAHF emphasized that Primary health care is for health benefits and if there is improvement in equity, service delivery, and quality, then people would have achieved PHC. It’s good to know that when the community participates in their health decisions then it’s cost-effective and there is no way PHC can be separated from communities. He mentioned that he was happy to see different stakeholders with different capacities in the house and thus each stakeholder’s strength would be leveraged upon by the other partners dealing in PHC since each partner will be bringing something unique onboard.
Dennis, the programs manager of UYAHF emphasized the role of Civil Society in promoting community participation to improve Uganda’s Primary Health Care framework and service delivery approach has even become more urgent in the face of the COVID-19 crisis where evidence has shown that communities can play an important role in not only health promotion and disease prevention but also enhancing access and utilization of essential services at the first point of care. With the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, much emphasis is required to ensure strong and resilient health care systems especially at the PHC level that will not only contribute to recovery from COVID-19 but also deliver essential health care services and address people’s diverse health needs. Therefore with a robust and well-coordinated civil society that is actively participating and shaping the Primary Health Care Agenda, communities are guaranteed of accessing many of the essential components of PHC including Health education on prevailing health problems and the methods of preventing and controlling them; Nutritional promotion including food supply; Supply of adequate safe water and sanitation; Maternal and child health care; Immunization against major infectious diseases; Prevention and control of locally endemic diseases; Appropriate treatment of common diseases and injuries; and Provision of essential drugs.
Praise Mwesiga, a program officer at UYAHF made a brief presentation about the findings. In her presentation, she told members present that the mapping was not limited to the region or capacity of any organization but rather was open to every organization that was doing something on PHC. She also mentioned that according to the findings, most of the organizations that responded to the call were grassroots CBOs with some working at the district and national level. She mentioned that the objective of the mapping was to know what organizations according to wok disaggregation were doing some work on PHC so that they could understand the capacity of each and then form a joint coordination mechanism to have all CSOs have one voice in advocating for an improved Primary health care system in Uganda.
Dr. Musoke in his keynote address commended UYAHF for bringing partners on board as well as allowing young people to participate since they can take back the information to their fellow peers. He defined PHC as emphasizing the need for equity and leaving no one behind. People need to be empowered to take lead in their health. He was curious about the idea of the need for the government to bring in and respect another structure of households since they play a great role. He commended the VHTs for having done great work as per the reports from the government and partner organizations.
The panel discussion focused on Fostering community participation to advance effective primary health care systems that can deliver quality essential health care services for all. What needs to be done and sub-national (service delivery level) and at the policy level. The panelists included Warren Blessing – Living Goods, Dr. Patrick Kagurusi– AMREF, Mr. Emmanuel – PATH, Mr. Muzira Tonny-FOME (who represented young people), and Dr. Wangisi Jonathan – DHO Mbale who represented the ministry of Health.
In his closing remarks, Dr. Jonathan Wangisi appreciated UYAHF for organizing such an important event as well as bringing academia on board to share the facts from their research. He emphasized the need for Implementing Partners to advocate politicians at the district as a team other than in isolation because political leaders listen to big voices so this will produce stronger results in line with community engagement within a short time. He commended the team leader for UYAHF for being very innovative and mobilizing all the different stakeholders with different expertise in the field of research to share their experiences as regards community engagement in PHC. On behalf of the government, he pledged to give CSOs a conducive environment to implement health-related programs that are geared towards improving the lives of the local populations.
80% of the participants reached rated the dialogue highest in attaining the workshop’s intended objectives.
By Nakato Joyce and Praise Mwesiga