We bring you yet another WHO Country Office Annual Report that highlights our contribution to public health development in Uganda in 2019. While we encountered several challenges during the year, we stood firm with the Ministry of Health and partners to ensure that no person in Uganda is left behind including the vulnerable.
Our work under the Disease Prevention and Control Cluster revolved around sustaining the gains made on the major communicable diseases – HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis – and making certain that more people access services available under these programmes.
At the same time, although the work on Non-communicable Disease (NCDs) is still enormous, the first NCD Multi-Sectoral Strategic Plan that was endorsed by the Ministry of Health will augment progress towards achievement of Sustainable Development Goal target 3.4.
Uganda spent the whole of 2019 on high alert due to the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Kivu Province in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) near the common border. Indeed, in June 2019, the country registered its 6th EVD outbreak after two people who attended a burial in DRC were diagnosed. A nine-year-old girl who was being transported to Uganda for treatment was also diagnosed with EVD on 29 August 2019. Since then, no other case has been detected in Uganda despite the outbreak being so near.
This achievement is attributable to Uganda’s robust disease surveillance system and the vigilance of frontline health workers in the high-risk districts. More specifically, public health interventions such as vaccination of health workers, active surveillance, cross border collaboration and awareness creation helped in preventing EVD from spreading into Uganda.
The National Measles-Rubella Polio campaign conducted in October 2019, reached 19,476,110 (108%) children aged between 9 months and under 15 years. Furthermore, 7,955,597 (97%) were vaccinated against polio type 1 and 3registering the highest immunization coverage in the East African region.
There was even more good news during the year when the Cabinet endorsed the National Health Insurance Bill currently before parliament for enactment into law. This law, if passed, will guarantee access to health services by most Ugandans and is hence a big milestone in the attainment of Universal Health Coverage (UHC). During the same year, a roadmap was developed to guide the country benchmark progress towards that goal.
The Cabinet endorsement of the National Health Insurance Bill currently before parliament for enactment is a major milestone towards the attainment of Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
Primary Health Care (PHC) is the assured route to achieving UHC, while Health Promotion and Disease Prevention are the major drivers for PHC. Therefore, WHO and other partners supported the Ministry of Health to convene the First National Conference on Health Promotion and Disease Control under the theme “Investing in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention to Achieve Universal Health Coverage”, to crown 2019.
On behalf of WHO, let me use this opportunity to congratulate the government on the major achievements. WHO remains committed to keeping the world safe, improving health for all and serving the vulnerable.
Dr. Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam
WHO Representative in Uganda