Better Health Services, But Challenges Remain – Ministry

By Nebert Rugadya

The Ministry of Healthy reports improvements in the health sector, despite new and growing challenges.

According to the Annual Health Sector Performance Report (AHSPR) 2017/2018, the health sector registered improvements in a number of indicators including maternal health indicators with Antenatal Care improving by 11%, supervised deliveries by 4% and postnatal care attendance by 26%.

Compared to 2015/16 financial year, there was an increase in Immunization for all doses. For instance, measles immunization increased in 2017/2018 by 4% while immunization completion rate for 2017/2018 was established at 86%. HIV patients on treatment, stood at 109,484 which represented a 15% increase from the 95,452 in FY 2016/2017.

The major areas of success reported include maternal mortality whose rate fell from 438/1000 people to 336/1000 people

Child mortality fell from 54/1000 people to 43/1000 people. However, neonatal deaths showed no improvement standing at 27/1000 against a mid-term target of 26/1000 people.

In the area of HIV, there were improvements showing that 6.0% of adults aged between 15-49 years are living with HIV down from 7.3%. The prevalence of HIV among children under 5 and 5 to 14 stands at 0.5%.

Immunization rates have also risen, with the uptake of Diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DPT3) vaccine growing from 71% to 79% and measles coverage among children 12-23 months increasing from 76% to 80%. However, the percentage of children who received the measles vaccine before their first birthday stands at 72%, well off the UHSDP target of 95%.

In her remarks to open the JRM, the Minister of Health, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng commended the MoH staff and partners for the improvements highlighted in the AHSPR and the UHSDP calling for an even better performance in the 2018/2019 financial year.

She also drew special attention to the reemergence of disease outbreaks highlighting the Marburg outbreak in Kween in 2017, “we lost 3 patients, however, the outbreak was promptly responded to and controlled thanks to an effective epidemic preparedness.”

Dr Aceng further underscored the current Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) that poses a danger to Uganda due to the porous borders the two countries share, saying, “We are confident that we will respond effectively because our partners like WHO have been very instrumental in helping us set up systems.”

WHO also supported MoH to carry out a mid-term review of the UHSDP 2015/16-2019/20, a plan that aims for providing quality services with a focus on control of infectious diseases, and reproductive, maternal and child health to all in Uganda.

A visit at Masindi Hospital, one of the oldest district referral hospitals in the country, revealed dilapidated buildings, equipment and facilities. District officials say the hospital was promised money for renovation but, that it was diverted to rehabilitate Kirandongo Hospital.

In a survey done by Twaweza, a regional not-for –profit group, under its initiative Sauti za Wananchi, showed that most Ugandans (6 in 10) take poor health facilities and services as the most serious problem facing Uganda today.

The lack of trust in government services was also shown in the number of people who go to go government facilities, only half of Ugandans.
A quarter use private, mission or NGO health centres, while the rest go to pharmacies, shops, friends or traditional healers for medicine.