Innovation, a necessary condition for the attainment of UHC in Uganda.

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The road to the attainment of UHC in Uganda is in high gear. Different stakeholders in particular the academia lead by Makerere University School of Public (MakSPH), and other SPEED partners, are pioneering the discussions on what it takes to attain UHC in Uganda.

Recently, the Consortium for Affordable Medical Technologies (CAMTech)-Uganda a project under Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) organised a three day   Hack-a- thon in which over 290 innovators from around the world conveyed to solve critical health challenges in low-resource settings. This year’s annual 6th CAMTech Uganda Medtech Hack-a thon was organised on a theme; Innovating to improve community health services to attain Universal health coverage”.

Dr Suzanne giving a key note address at Mbarara University of Science and Technology on UHC at the 6th Annual CAMTectech Uganda Medtech hack- a-thon

SPEED being a lead project in the matters of UHC in Uganda through her  Co PI- Dr Suzanne Kiwanuka, provided a key note address on behalf of Prof Ezra Suruma, Chancellor Makerere University and head of Delivery unity at the office of Prime Minister on UHC and what it takes for a country to attain it.

The young innovators this year were   innovating on community health. More than 70 ideas were presented. These ideas were supposed to be  refined by mentors drawn from different fields ie, Engineering, medicines, Information technology, social sciences, etc  in order to select the most inventive,   feasible and practicable  ideas that would be adopted for  improving community health services towards attaining UHC.

Some of the Young innovators who participated in the Medtech Hack a-thon

Dr Suzanne presented on Uganda’s best buys for UHC and which opportunities are there for the young innovators to work upon to attain UHC. She noted; in order to achieve UHC there is a need to balance the three pillars of improving the health of societies.  ie economic, social sector and the environment. Emphasized the need to invest and innovate more around the pillar of social sector in which health belong. This is because; in instances of epidemics, a weak social sector, ie Health is the most affected; to the level of not standing to provide the basic services.

For the country to attain UHC, three different policy implication should be considered by both the government and innovators. 1) Increasing services of good quality, 2) expanding the population groups benefiting from the services, 3)building resilient systems to sustain coverage.

Health needs to be looked at in a holistic manner; have a careful look at equipment, reduce the cost of health care and push for localised community programming.  “There is need to invest in communities who can demand for the health care and be empowered to practice good health behaviours”. There is a need to know how to manage investments that can promote health. She appreciated the CAMTeCh members for focusing on community health.

A shift in country’s perspective from focusing on just healthcare as a driver to attaining UHC is necessary. Other determinants of health like water, transportations, population, environment etc all needs to be considered. Regarding increasing accidents on roads, innovators at CAMTECH Uganda were requested to come up with an innovation that will make roads of Uganda safer.  This will reduce the burden on health facilities which are already constrained health facilities.

In conclusion, UHC attainment requires innovative ideas and strategies that will ensure health services for everyone.

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