Uganda: Civil society report on health care well-received by government

January 25, 2011

In November 2010, a group of civil society organisations including IFHHRO member AGHA distributed a report on health care in Uganda at the country’s annual National Health Assembly. The electronic version of this report is now available.

The report, entitled Civil Society Organisations’ Perspectives and Priorities on Health Sector Performance FY 2009-2010, highlights key priority areas for the Ministry of Health for strengthening health systems and the Uganda National Minimum Healthcare Package, especially in the areas of mental health, malaria, HIV/AIDS, family planning, maternal and child health, as well as stigma and discrimination in the health sector.

The report was well received by Government of Uganda officials and leaders of development agencies who attended the National Health Assembly/Joint Review Mission (JRM) in November 2010. The JRM is the annual health sector review meeting held by Uganda’s Ministry of Health for its national staff, district counterparts, international development partners, health professionals and civil society representatives.

In the report there is special attention for human rights. One of the chapters is on mainstreaming a human rights-based approach into the health sector. While there was no mention of human rights in the Health Sector Strategic and Investment Plan II (HSSP), civil society welcomes the addition of the rights-based approach in HSSP III. “This shift away from a needs-based approach that only meets the temporary health needs of Ugandans, towards a structural shift whereby MoH recognizes its obligation to provide care as a human right, is welcome”, a press release issued on January 18, 2011 states. “We also welcome the launch of the Patient’s Charter, which if widely disseminated, promoted, and implemented will empower Ugandans to become better health consumers and interact on more equal footing with healthcare providers. People need to know their rights.”

The recommendations in this regard include:

  • Create an action plan to disseminate the Patient’s Charter – Work with national medical associations, health professional associations, health workers, district health teams, national NGOs, international NGOs, faith-based organizations, community-based organizations and other stakeholders to translate and widely disseminate and display the Patient’s Charter at all health facilities.
  • Mainstream human rights in all MoH operations – Continue to work to mainstream human rights-based approach into policy design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of health goods and services.
  • Train health workers in human rights – Facilitate the training of health workers (both pre-service and in-service) in human rights, the rights-based approach and the relationship between health and human rights. Health workers are in a special position to monitor and report on violations to the right to health. 
  • Recognize human rights violations – Formally recognise the continued discrimination of marginalised groups as human rights violations. This includes instances wherein discrimination or fear of discrimination prevents people with disabilities, the elderly and sexual minorities from accessing quality health care. By adopting the human right-based principle of non-discrimination in its practices, the Ministry will be able to progressively eliminate instances in which the rights of minorities and rights of the poor are violated.

Plans are now in the works for ensuring proper follow-up of the report’s recommendations and securing funding for publishing this report annually. 

Civil Society Organisations’ Perspectives and Priorities on Health Sector Performance FY 2009-2010

Health Sector Strategic and Investment Plan III (see section 5.4.1 on ‘The right to highest attainable level of health’)