Black Affairs, Africa and Development

Uganda: Department of Health signs an alliance with University of Manchester

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Two members of the Ugandan Department of Health met senior University medics and members of the Manchester Academic Health Sciences Centre (MAHSC) on a fact-finding mission to the UK as part of the Alliance launch. A Ugandan-UK Healthcare Alliance, which will help improve health care for people living in the East African country, were launched after being developed by a University of Manchester health professional.

The Promota reached out to Professor Ged Byrne, Associate Dean of the Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences, who is the brains behind setting-up the alliance after gaining approval from Lord Nigel Crisp, a member of the House of Lords who specialises on international development and global health.

Professor Ged Byrne

Professor Ged Byrne

Thank you for accepting to be interviewed by the Promota magazine, Who is Prof. Byrne?
I qualified (and still practice) as a surgeon. Throughout my postgraduate life however, I have maintained and enhanced interests in healthcare professional education and health systems modelling. I am currently Professor of Medical education, Founder Director of the Academy, University Hospital of South Manchester and Associate Dean for Communications, Faculty Medical and Human Sciences, University of Manchester
How will the recent Ugandan – UK Healthcare Alliance –  benefit Uganda? And, why did you decide to get involved in this alliance?

  • The Uganda UK Healthcare Alliance will hopefully serve several purposes including:
  • Supporting the Ugandan Government to develop a competent healthcare workforce, improve Ugandan health systems and help achieve Millennium Development Goals 4,5 and 6
  • Provide opportunities for Learning, Development and research for Health Workers, Institutions and Higher Education Establishments in both the UK and Uganda
  • Promote coordination between governmental and non-Governmental organisations from both Uganda and the UK
  • Promote internationally-recognised standards of health care delivery and International development
  • Assure value for money that is spent in the Ugandan healthcare system by promoting efficacy, efficiency, economy
  • It was clear to myself and others who had worked in Uganda for a period of time, that duplication of effort and lack of coordination and organisation was resulting in significant inefficiency in delivering healthcare improvement. Using the example of the successful Zambia-UK Alliance and with the help of Lord Nigel Crisp we have been working towards launching the Alliance for some 12 months.

What do you think are the main problems in Africa particularly Uganda, that hinders it achieving reach its Millennium Development Goals targets set by the United Nations? These include improving maternal health and reducing child mortality rates which stands at 435 per 100k births?
This is such a complex issue. The harsh reality is that, despite billions of dollars of aid and the altruistic efforts of hundreds of thousands, impact in reducing mortality and morbidity from serious disease has changed little in many Sub-Saharan countries for many decades. Personally I believe that much better outcomes would be achieved if we bilaterally focus on the development of robust healthcare systems and processes where succession planning, capacity building, robust evaluation and exit strategies are the first considerations in delivering innovative programmes to improve healthcare. Perhaps more importantly, however, efforts must be bilaterally agreed between the UK and Uganda and any activities aimed at improving healthcare must map directly to the policies and strategies of the Ugandan Government.
Are the Millennium Development Goals the right matrix against which our healthcare needs should be measured? If not, what should they be?
The MDGs have undoubtedly had their place in focusing efforts in recent years but like most aims which produce successful outcomes, they must change as the need arises. IT access and universal communication will be key to the development of new goals which are due to be established later in 2013
Are there many UK partnerships with healthcare Trusts or universities abroad? If so, what are those partnerships?
There are numerous partnerships between UK healthcare organisations and hospitals, health systems and educational establishments abroad. Many of these are promoted and supported by the Tropical Health Education Trust (www.thet.org) . Several of these links collaborate already.
How can Ugandans in the Uk working in the medical sector benefit or be of help to this alliance? How can Ugandans in the Diaspora who are healthcare professionals, contribute to the National healthcare program generally, not just to this alliance specifically? Are there formal ways for them to contribute now or in the future?
The role of Ugandan diaspora is absolutely essential to the success of the Alliance. The Alliance plans to make diaspora the key volunteering constituency for its activities. The Alliance requires a range of specific help from the diaspora including cultural competence development for non-Ugandan volunteers, volunteering in Uganda itself and also acting as an administrative hub for the Alliance within the UK. In addition the diaspora organisations may be able to assist the Alliance in fundraising and defining key initiatives for the Alliance to undertake. A series of meetings is planned between the Alliance secretariat and diaspora groups in 2013.

For further information contact:
Alison Barbuti
Media Relations Officer
Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences |The University of Manchester
Tel. 0161 275 8383 | Mob: 07887 561 318
Email: alison.barbuti@manchester.ac.uk

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