The national multi-stakeholder dialogue on Uganda’s health emergencies response was held on 20th July, 2023 at SKYZ Hotel. The meeting was attended by above 20 participants from different sectors and backgrounds, including government officials, health development partners, members of parliament, civil society, media and academia. The meeting was facilitated by HEPS-Uganda and Samasha, two civil society organizations working on health systems strengthening and accountability.
The meeting started with a welcome remark from the Executive Director of HEPS-Uganda, who highlighted the importance of the dialogue in sharing experiences and learnings from health emergencies response efforts, and identifying opportunities to strengthen synergies, collaboration and commitment. He also emphasized the need for accountability and transparency in health emergencies response, especially in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The meeting proceeded with a keynote address from the Minister of Health, who gave an overview of the government’s response to Covid-19 and other health emergencies in the past three years. He acknowledged the challenges and gaps that the country faced in terms of preparedness, financing, coordination, communication, and service delivery. He also appreciated the support and contribution of various stakeholders in the health sector, and called for continued partnership and cooperation in addressing the health emergencies.
The meeting then had a panel discussion on best practices, lessons learned, and innovative approaches in health emergencies response from different stakeholders. The panelists included representatives from the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Uganda Medical Association (UMA), the Uganda National NGO Forum (UNNGOF), and the Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH). The panelists shared their perspectives and experiences on how they have been involved in health emergencies response, what challenges they have encountered, what solutions they have implemented or proposed, and what recommendations they have for improving the health emergencies response plan and advancing the country’s overall preparedness and response capacity.
The meeting also had a plenary session where participants were given an opportunity to ask questions, make comments, and share their views on the issues raised by the panelists. The plenary session was moderated by a senior journalist from [media house], who ensured that the discussion was lively, interactive, and respectful. Some of the key issues that emerged from the plenary session were:
- The need for more investment in health systems strengthening and resilience building, especially at the primary health care level.
- The need for more coordination and alignment among different stakeholders in health emergencies response, both within and outside the health sector.
- The need for more community engagement and participation in health emergencies response, especially in terms of risk communication, social mobilization, and feedback mechanisms.
- The need for more evidence-based decision making and policy formulation in health emergencies response, especially in terms of data collection, analysis, dissemination, and utilization.
- The need for more accountability and transparency in health emergencies response, especially in terms of resource mobilization, allocation, utilization, and reporting.
The meeting ended with a closing remark from the Executive Director of Huric-Uganda Denis Joseph Bukenya, who thanked all the participants for their active involvement and valuable contributions. He also summarized the main outcomes of the meeting, which were:
- Recommendations on strengthening the country’s capacity to respond to health emergencies, such as increasing domestic financing for health security; enhancing multisectoral coordination and collaboration; strengthening surveillance and early warning systems; improving access to quality services and essential supplies; promoting innovation and research; ensuring equity and human rights; and building trust and social cohesion.
- Commitments to strengthen multi-stakeholder planning and response to health emergencies, such as establishing regular platforms for dialogue and information sharing; developing joint action plans and monitoring frameworks; creating mutual accountability mechanisms; fostering partnerships and networks; advocating for policy change and implementation; and mobilizing resources and support.
He also expressed his hope that the meeting would serve as a catalyst for further action and follow-up on the issues discussed. He urged all the stakeholders to continue working together to ensure that Uganda is better prepared and equipped to deal with health emergencies in the future.