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A new five-year, $23 million project will help Uganda’s ministries, districts, professional councils, and private organizations better plan for, develop, and strengthen the management of their health workforce. The country’s critical shortage of health workers continues to hamper Uganda’s efforts to provide high-quality health care to all of its citizens.
Funded by the United States Agency for International Development, the Strengthening Human Resources for Health Uganda Associate Award will build on the achievements of the Uganda Capacity Program, which was led by IntraHealth 2009-2014.
IntraHealth has worked in Uganda for 25 years and been a strategic partner to the government and health professional councils in developing Uganda’s health workforce capacity and strengthening its health care services. IntraHealth’s high-level advocacy and coalition-building helped convince Uganda’s government to finance, recruit, and deploy over 7,200 new trained health workers. Together we increased the number of filled positions in the health sector from 48% in 2009 to 69% in 2014.
IntraHealth also established a unified human resources information system throughout most of the country to improve evidence-based health workforce planning and management. By 2013, 72% of districts were using the IntraHealth-developed, open source iHRIS software, which is making it easier to recruit new workers, fill open positions, and ensure health workers have the proper qualifications.
But Uganda still has only one doctor, nurse, or midwife for every 714 people and is able to fill fewer than 67% of public-sector health positions. Problems related to performance, retention, skills, motivation, and absenteeism also shape the health workforce environment. Addressing these challenges requires better management of the existing health workforce, improved strategies to attract and retain health workers in rural and remote areas (especially to ensure the delivery of high-quality HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment services), and greater focus on education and refresher training for health professionals.
The new project will focus on these challenges, taking a comprehensive approach to health worker performance management and pre-service training. Additionally, with key stakeholders, the project will develop and implement a standard package of district-level human resources for health interventions for transition to districts before 2019.
The new project will run from 2014 to 2019. Dr. Vincent Oketcho, IntraHealth’s Uganda country director and chief of party, and Dr. Susan Wandera, deputy chief of party, will lead the project.