Uganda's health sector grows despite challenges

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Kampala, 2 November 2018:- The Ministry of Health convened a two day Joint Review Mission (JRM) conference to review and discuss the performance of the health sector for the Financial Year (FY) 2017/2018 which began from July 2017 to June 2018.

The 23rd JRM was held under the theme "Embracing effective performance management and accountability to move towards Universal Health Coverage” with a focus on promoting Primary Health Care, Health Promotion and disease prevention, and pooling resources for financial risk protection through a mandatory health insurance scheme.

The JRM provided an opportunity to discuss the Annual Health Sector Performance Report (AHSPR) 2017/2018, and to receive and discuss the findings of the Mid-term review of the Uganda Health Sector Development Plan (HSDP).

According to the AHSPR 2017/2018, the health sector registered improvements in a number of indicators including maternal health indicators with Antenatal Care improving by 11%, supervised deliveries by 4% and postnatal care attendance by 26%. Compared to 2015/16 financial year, there was an increase in Immunization for all doses. For instance, measles immunization increased in 2017/2018 by 4% while immunization completion rate for 2017/2018 was established at 86%. HIV patients on treatment, stood at 109,484 which represented a 15% increase from the 95,452 in FY 2016/2017.

As per the mid-term review of the UHSDP, out of the 41 indicators in the UHSDP, 13 were reported on track, 16 made progress but deemed too slow to meet the target, and 10 are not on track. The major areas of success reported include maternal and child mortality rates which fell from 438/1000 people to 336/1000 people and 54/1000 people to 43/1000 people respectively. However, neonatal deaths showed no improvement standing at 27/1000 against a mid-term target of 26/1000 people.

In the area of HIV, there were improvements showing that 6.0% of adults aged between 15-49 years are living with HIV down from 7.3%. The prevalence of HIV among children under 5 and 5 to 14 stands at 0.5%.

Immunization rates have also risen, with the uptake of Diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DPT3) vaccine growing from 71% to 79% and measles coverage among children 12-23 months increasing from 76% to 80%. However, the percentage of children who received the measles vaccine before their first birthday stands at 72%, well off the UHSDP target of 95%.

In her remarks to open the JRM, the Minister of Health, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng commended the MoH staff and partners for the improvements highlighted in the AHSPR and the UHSDP calling for an even better performance in the 2018/2019 financial year.

She also drew special attention to the reemergence of disease outbreaks highlighting the Marburg outbreak in Kween in 2017, "we lost 3 patients, however, the outbreak was promptly responded to and controlled thanks to an effective epidemic preparedness."

Dr Aceng further underscored the current Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) that poses a danger to Uganda due to the porous borders the two countries share, saying, "We are confident that we will respond effectively because our partners like WHO have been very instrumental in helping us set up systems."

WHO also supported MoH to carry out a mid-term review of the UHSDP 2015/16-2019/20, a plan that aims for providing quality services with a focus on control of infectious diseases, and reproductive, maternal and child health to all in Uganda.

Based on the issues presented and deliberations from the meeting, an aide memoire was prepared to guide priority areas for implementation in FY 2019/20 but also looking forward to the second phase of the UHSDP and development of the new sector development plan.

The JRM was attended by Members of Parliament, Health Development Partners, Civil Society Organizations, District Leaders and the Private Health Providers.

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