“Most of the health systems are preoccupied with treating diseases, not promoting health. We need strong stewardship and leadership to ensure that we prevent people from falling sick by investing in health systems and getting our leaders to appreciate the wellness based health systems.” Professor Francis Omaswa, Executive Director for African Centre for Global Health and Social Transformation (ACHEST) remarked while giving a key note address at the 1st International Symposium on Community Health Workers in Kampala.
Expounding on the key note speech titled: “Building a health system that leaves no one behind: Implications for Uganda.” Prof Omaswa stressed the importance of embedding health in governance, reminiscing the way local leaders provided governance on health in their communities which yielded positive results. Local leaders therefore should report health threats to the government leaders just as they report security issues since health is a security issue as well.
The symposium that was held in Kampala from 21st-23rd February 2017 brought together over 200 participants from around the world where about 100 presentations were made packaged in: key note addresses, plenary, poster and breakout sessions organized in partnership between Makerere School of Public Health, Nottingham Trent University and Government o f Uganda.
The Minister for Primary Health Care, Dr. Joyce Kaducu Moriku commended community health workers for the great contribution they made in bridging the gap between the communities and the health centers that immensely led to the reduction of maternal mortality and morbidity contributing to Goal 2 and 3 of the MDGs amidst the limited resources.
For the last 15 years of the implementation of the Village Health Team strategy, the community health workers have been working voluntarily without proper motivation, supervision and support, yet they are expected to deliver. For Uganda to get quality services delivered with integrity and dignity by the community health workers, care needs to be taken to motivate, support and supervise the community health workers. Dr. Christopher Oleke, Lead strategist of the Community Health Extension Workers at Ministry of Health advised.
Dr. Patrick Kadama, Director Health Systems and Strategy at ACHEST while presenting at a panel discussion on Innovative financing for health elicited on the use of innovative financing in addressing efficiency issues, but warned that while doing so, social drivers should be backed with efficiency that is equitable and meets the needs of all.
He advised that in rolling out the innovative financing mechanisms, care needs to be taken especially if it is taking into account efficiency issues that often might distort equity, yet equity consideration is important.
Key recommendations made at the symposium included among others: Providing a minimum health care package for all; embedding Health and Education into each other; greater need for government to commit money and political will to promote health; motivation, supervision and training of community health players.
Coupled to that was a recommendation for a new set of laws to be put in place so as to enforce the responsibility and roles of all stakeholders in strengthening the health systems; tied to implementing the existing strategies.