IntraHealth International to Lead $64.8 Million Project, Reach 5.7 Million Ugandans with Essential Health Services

family in Karamoja

Family members stand outside their home in Karamoja. The vast region is home to a mostly pastoral population of 1.2 million and suffers from extreme poverty, food insecurity, and low health services coverage and use compared to other parts of Uganda. Photo by Tommy Trenchard for IntraHealth International.

Through a new $64.8 million, five-year award from the US Agency for International Development, IntraHealth International will help the government of Uganda expand access to and use of high-quality health services across 23 districts. The initiative, called the Regional Health Integration to Enhance Services in Eastern Uganda (RHITES-East) activity, will reach some 5.7 million people in Eastern Uganda and Karamoja with services for HIV/AIDS; malaria; tuberculosis; nutrition; maternal, newborn, and child health; and more.

Uganda has made notable health and development progress in the past decade: decreasing poverty, improving education, reducing child mortality by half, increasing life expectancy, and almost doubling the modern contraceptive prevalence rate. Yet the country is still far from its goal of universal health coverage. Rapid population growth, high unwanted fertility, and a high burden of disease all threaten the progress Uganda has made. Reaching rural, pastoral, and the lowest-income Ugandans with equitable services has remained a challenge. 

The RHITES-East project area comprises largely rural populations underserved by the current health system. It also suffers from higher poverty rates and greater food insecurity while lagging behind the nation in health services coverage and use.

The project will work with district health officials to strengthen the districts’ health systems as well as community and social structures that will generate stronger demand for services and hold the health systems accountable for equitable access and quality. Key pillars of the project’s strategy include improving data use, integrating health services, digital health solutions, quality, and a special focus on youth and gender.

IntraHealth will lead a consortium of global and local partners, including the AIDS Service Organization (TASO), Malaria Consortium, Communication for Development Foundation Uganda, and Medic Mobile. The project will be led by Dr. Caroline Karutu, chief of party and a senior public health expert with more than 12 years of experience leading and managing large, complex projects for health service delivery and health systems strengthening in East Africa.

This project will build on IntraHealth’s 20+ years of experience collaborating with the government of Uganda to improve health care and strengthen its health workforce and system. IntraHealth also leads the ongoing Strengthening Human Resources for Health in Uganda, a USAID-funded activity focused on addressing Uganda’s critical shortage of health workers at the national level.