Seeking a practicing license is now just a click away on the computer. The African Center for Global Health and Social Transformation (ACHEST) has successfully developed Uganda’s first ever online platform for the annual practicing licenses for health professionals and facilities.
With support from the World Bank Group, the online platform is a game changer in the health sector. It automatically means that professionals will no longer have to travel hundreds of miles to the capital Kampala to register or renew their annual practicing licenses.
One only needs to create an account and register in the portal to acquire the registration certificate. For previously registered professionals, login credentials will be forwarded to them on their cell phones.
The platform was developed over a period of three years and can be accessed through: www.ehealthlicence.go.ug
During the launch of the platform at Sheraton Kampala hotel on November 26, 2019, several speakers hailed ACHEST for developing the innovation and added that this would make a difference in service delivery in the health sector.
World Bank Group’s Senior Health Specialist, Bernard Olayo observed that it is draining for health workers go through the nightmare that comes with physically travelling to Kampala, which is host to the regulatory councils.
“Picture a doctor who works in south west Uganda. It takes a day to travel to pay a license of sh20,000. There are accommodation costs to incur. If you are a private practitioner, you lose days because during that time, no one is helping you to do anything. Once in the city, you book an appointment, pick for application form, and then go to pay,” Olayo noted.
Olayo said the objective of the platform was to improve the quality of medical care in Uganda.
“As the Bank, we felt that to strengthen the health system, we had to ensure there was a robust mechanism to manage the professionals and the facilities that make up that system. The gateway into the health system for both being registration and licensing made it a natural place to start.”
Prof. Khama Rogo, World Bank Group’s Lead Health Specialist/ Head of Health in Africa Initiative also expressed concern on the time lost during the tedious process.
“You take a week of to travel from Tororo to come and register. People close their clinics and everything stops. This doesn’t add value to patient care or the Universal Health Coverage (UHC),” said Prof. Khama
He stressed that with the UHC 2030 goal just a decade away, technology would save time and resources.
“It is a journey we have to take and respond to three pillars of health care: access, quality and affordability,” he said
During the event, Dr Patrick Kadama, ACHEST’s head of Policy and Health Systems Strategy, amused participants when he recounted a personal experience of having lost a document as he was travelling between Kampala and Entebbe; and warned that it is risky it is to keep manual data.
“Technology is the way of the world. It is how the world lives today,” said Dr. Kadama
Robert Odedo, ACHEST’s Chief Operating Officer said the idea of the online platform was to deliver ICT-based solutions for the regulatory processes, to allow the Ministry of Health and health professional councils to implement an intervention that would empower the councils to produce measurable and reliable results.
“Digital Health is the way to go and the future for service delivery,” said Odedo. He stressed further: “The idea is that people don’t have to travel to Kampala every year to renew their licenses. It will ensure that a doctor from Kotido district doesn’t have to come all the way to Kampala and spend three to four days in the process.”
Dr. Katumba Ssentongo, the Registrar of the Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners Council said modern techniques would mitigate fraud and allow regulators to focus more on supporting professionals. He explained that license bearers will be given codes for security purposes.
Dr. Charles Otaro, who represented the Minister of Health said: “I encourage all medical councils to embrace automation when conducting their regulatory roles as this shall not only improve efficiency but also save operational costs.”
Compiled by Carol Natukunda, Communications Specialist, African Center for Global Health and Social Transformation