In the year 2014 the Parliament of Uganda started a Department of Research Services (DRS). The department is mandated with the role of providing non-partisan and well researched information to MPs for plenary debates, committee or constituency business; to senior staff for business of House or service, and to individual MPs and delegations which represent Parliament in various fora.
On 24th September 2018 Staff from this department gave a seminar on how Makerere University researchers can best engage with Parliament to influence policy making in Uganda. This seminar came as a result of a collaboration initiated by SPEED and the ReBUILD Consortium with DRS to engage and influence policy makers with contextually adapted evidence for health policy making in Uganda.
Staff from the DRS shared opportunities that are available at the Parliament for which researchers at Makerere School of Public Health (MakSPH), College and the entire university can utilize.
Prof. Freddie Ssengooba (Director -SPEED Project) who chaired the seminar noted that working with Parliament is a great opportunity for the academicians to directly shape the policies of Uganda. He noted that there is a need for academicians to know how policies are made and what informs bills in the Parliament. “Through various work/research, a lot of products are produced at the School which could be used by the parliament in formulating policies; there is always a demand for evidence in most of these institutions”. Prof Freddie emphasised.
In this collaboration, Mr. Richard Ssempala- SPEED Knowledge Management officer is working as a fellow from MakSPH at the DRS to strengthen linkage between parliament and MakSPH.
Mr. Sunday Etrima, Senior Research officer – Department of Research Services – Parliament of Uganda presented on the opportunities in bridging the knowledge and evidence gap at Parliament. He noted that whereas evidence is paramount in parliamentary duties, there are a few researchers/ staff at parliament. “Parliament is mandated by the constitution of Uganda to make decisions that serves the interests of the people of Uganda but this can only be possible only if the decisions are anchored on valid, relevant, timely and well researched evidence….” Given the number of experienced researchers at MaKSPH, SPEED partners and the college of Health Sciences, the Department of Research Services of Parliament will greatly benefit from this collaboration. “Our work is to ensure that MPs are given evidence upon which to base the decisions” Mr. Sunday noted.
Prof. David M. Serwadda while giving closing remarks, thanked Prof Freddie for the initiative that is to connect the academia with the champions in policy making. He called upon MaKSPH staff to utilize this collaboration to ensure that the evidence produced at school reach the concerned audience.
Through this partnership, it is expected that the School, SPEED and other projects in the College will have more effective engagements with parliament through its research department to influence policies in Uganda.