The SPEED Project Launched with Fanfare, Excitement and a lot of Promise

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The Supporting Policy Engagement for Evidence-based Decisions (SPEED) project has been launched. Focusing of Universal Health Coverage (UHC), SPEED is a five-year European Union-supported initiative implemented by six partners in Africa and Europe; Makerere University School of Public Health will be the centre of action for the implementation.
With funding to a tune of about 3.2 million Euros from the EU and close to 800,000 Euros to be contributed by partners, SPEED aims to strengthen capacity of policy analysis, advice and influence at Makerere University School of Public Health and contribute to accelerating progress towards UHC and health systems resilience in Uganda.
Launching the initiative yesterday at Makerere University College of Health Sciences’ Davis Lecture Theatre, the Head of Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Uganda, Ambassador Kristian Schmidt said that public health is about “making informed decisions. Decisions that are based on evidence. Decisions that are taken by those who are responsible and accountable for the results and impact. Decisions that are informed by the local reality; and decisions that can be implemented with available resources”.
Ambassador Schmidt said that SPEED will provide national health authorities and stakeholders with evidence-based and locally adapted policy advice, training and support for policy that is rooted in reality rather than the ideal.
He added that although there are positive developments in achievements registered under the MDGs, other issues like rapid population growth and new health hazards put all that has been achieved at risk.
He however cautioned the implementation team against moving too fast on Universal Health Coverage, saying the trend is that with universal health services, the quality normally goes down.
The Director General of Health Services, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng in her remarks noted that policy analysis and policy advice are key ingredients of sound people-centred development and was happy to note that the SPEED initiative will be focusing its efforts in this area.
Dr. Aceng pointed out that the Ministry of Health and broadly government of Uganda have been involved in several interventions aimed at improving health outcomes for all. These include; instituting a process for coordination to and work as ne, to among other things increase coverage of effective interventions, reduce wastage through duplication of activities and roles; recruit more health workers, increase mobilization and allocation of resources for improvement of infrastructure, equip health managers with leadership skills and provide bursaries and scholarships to essential cadres of health workers. She added however, that there are still challenges related to financial constraints, lack of coordination of the relevant sectors and poverty which is still a major contributor to ill-health and access to services.

The Acting Principa, Makerere University College of Health Sciences Dr. Isaac Okullo let it be known that SPEED as an initiative will be building on past and current efforts focused on policy advice and policy influence.

In his vote of thanks, the Director, Mulago National Referral and Teaching Hospital, Dr. Baterana Byarugaba, pointed out that the SPEED initiative is very important for improved delivery of services.

By Milly Nattimba
SPEED Communications Advisor

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