The World Health Organization (WHO) remains the partner of the Government of The Republic of Uganda in pursuit of the “ attainment and enjoyment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health without distinction of race, gender, religion, political belief, economic or social condition”.
Therefore, in all the contributions made in public health in Uganda, that mission espoused in the WHO Constitution remains our guiding principle.
In this 2018 Annual Report, we highlight our major contributions to the government’s efforts to deliver good health to all people in Uganda. Of course, there were challenges along the way and these are presented as well. We also provide a glimpse of what we would like to see in future and these are presented as way forward in each of the four chapters which are also how the office is organised.
The technical work we did in 2018 was articulated in and guided by the Country Cooperation Strategy (CCS) that was developed in close consultation with the Ministry of Health and our leading partners.
The CCS is in turn aligned to the United Nations Development Assistance Framework for Uganda, 2016 – 2020, the Health Sector Strategy 2015/16 – 2019/20 and eventually to the National Development Plan 2015/16-2019/20.
We take particular pride in our contribution to health systems development in Uganda. We have been able to support government make steps towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC) which is also WHO’s goal under the Triple Billions vision of our Director General. Attainment of UHC is also the driving force behind the Transformation Agenda championed by our WHO Regional Director for Africa.
We are glad to report the tremendous achievements attained in the disease prevention and control as presented in chapter three of this report. It is heartening to report that in the area of Neglected Tropical Diseases for instance, elimination of some diseases is now a realistic possibility. We are encouraged by the achievements on malaria and HIV/AIDS under which many people were reached with prevention, control and treatment interventions thus reducing morbidity and mortality due these diseases.
In the recent past, Uganda has been in the spotlight as a hotspot of emerging and re-emerging fatal zoonotic infectious diseases associated with fever and bleeding tendencies. The country has experienced outbreaks of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), Marburg Haemorrhagic Fever, Yellow Fever, Crimean Congo Haemorrhagic Fever, Pandemic Influenza (H1N1) and Rift Valley Fever. Luckily, the country has been able to stop all these outbreaks in considerably short periods of time and in the process demonstrating excellent compliance with the International Health Regulations (2005).
The confirmation of EVD outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo in August 2018 tested Uganda’s preparedness and readiness given the proximity of the epicenter of the outbreak.
In all disease outbreak situation, Uganda’s vibrant and responsive disease surveillance system has been the backbone of success in preparedness and response as highlighted in this report. We are happy to be closely associated with the governments’ effort to build this system through preparation, rigorous training, setting standards and its operationalization right from the community level.
We must mention the firm and clear government leadership that has guided us and other partners to contribute to public health development in the country. In 2018, effective government leadership and coordination made implementation of activities easier, efficient with minimal duplication of efforts. Transparency, accountability and excellent diplomacy by government counterparts also contributed significantly to increased technical and financial support towards positive results in this reporting period.
We cannot forget to recognize the Ugandan communities for whom we all work and who experience the public health challenges we deal with. Their contribution to the work we did in 2018 is the reason we report achievements is this report. Yet the Ministry of Health must also be commended for setting up and nurturing community health structures such as the Village Health Teams through which households and individuals are reached with our community-based interventions.
We acknowledge the tremendous financial support from our partners some of which is highlighted in chapter four of the report that enabled us to implement activities in various areas of work. Without this support, we wouldn’t have made the contributions we made which slowly but surely is moving the country close to attainment of UHC. We look forward to more support as we strive to overcome these challenges and deliver better health in Uganda.
Last but by no means least, we are grateful to the WHO Regional Director for Africa (RD) and colleagues from the Regional Office who supported and undertook a functional review of our office during this reporting period. The review, which is part of RD’s Transformation agenda was intended to determine the human resource needs of the office and align them to specific national health priorities. Recommendations from the review will be implemented in 2019 onwards.
We hope you will enjoy reading our report and that it forms the basis for feedback, discussions and planning for better public health in Uganda.
Dr Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam, WHO Representative