The School of Public Health at Makerere University College of Health Sciences has launched a fellowship program in health systems management aimed at building and strengthening capacity, specifically competencies for senior managers working in health systems.
The work-based fellowship will create opportunity for professional development as well as create a sense of professionalism. The fellowship program is implemented by Makerere University School of Public Health, Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITM) - Antwerp Belgium, Ministry of Health Uganda and the Uganda Public Health Specialists Association.
Officiating at the launch ceremony at Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala, Dr. Isaac Ezati, the Director of Health Services Planning and Development in the Ministry of Health, said that one of the biggest challenges in the health sector today is managing the health system. “The challenges now need innovations around resources and skills. The fellowship program is innovation. We need you to study case studies and come up with innovative ways in which to handle the health system; innovative ways in which the health sector can be financed”, he said.
Dr. Ezati pointed out that challenges are enormous at the district level, and called upon the School of Public Health to admit more district health managers on the fellowship program.
He added that other challenges include the weak links between the districts and the centre and between the Private-Not-for-Profit and other service providers.
“Improving the management skills of people in charge of implementing government programs is a critical intervention to help address challenges of health systems in Uganda”, Dr. Ezati pointed out.
Dr. Ezati also emphasised the need for Ministry of Health and academia to work together to have research feeding into the policy making processes.
The Belgian Ambassador to Uganda Marck Gedop, noted that institutional capacity building in the health sector has been challenging due to different perspectives from the Ministry of Health. “You cannot talk about what a good health system is with people who are breaking it”, he emphasised.
Ambassador Gedop further noted that professional development of health workers is a problem, and expressed hope that the fellowship program will bring broad-based experiences for the selected fellows.
The Vice Chancellor Makerere University Professor Venansius Baryamureba said that health sector challenges are still many with most health indicators not promising to meet the MDGs.
The Dean School of Public Health, Associate Professor William Bazeyo, on his part, said that fellowships at the School of Public Health complement the few existing academic programs and short courses. He added that district staff are very central at responding to emergencies and disaster, and therefore they need to be equipped with the necessary skills.
Bart Criel, Professor of Public Health at ITM-Antwerp emphasised that districts need a variety of competencies and skills in social skills, medical skills and managerial skills. He said that he was confident the combination of classroom teaching and mentorship ‘will be more than the sum of its elements’.
The pioneer eleven fellows come from districts like Yumbe, Moyo, Arua as well as from the Ministry of Health and the Uganda AIDS Commission.