Celebrating Uganda's Health Workers

Overview: Overworked, underpaid, ill-trained and unsupported. These words spring to mind when considering the health service staff and their working conditions in Uganda.  

The East-African country has a critically low workforce in its health services. With only one doctor, nurse, or midwife for every 714 people.

Heavy workloads; long working hours; poor and delayed pay; a lack of appropriate tools, technology and supporting infrastructure are major disincentives for anyone entering the healthcare industry. No wonder 30% of qualified workers are seeking opportunities abroad. While 60% practice in urban areas, serving only around 15% of Uganda’s overall population.

IntraHealth and Uganda’s Ministry of Health are aiming to change that, and ease a system strained by understaffing, HIV/AIDS, malaria and other communicable diseases.

Goal: With funding from USAID, IntraHealth and Uganda’s government have implemented a five-year project focused on addressing the country’s shortage of health workers at a national level.

By the time their ‘Strengthening Human Resources for Health’ project ends in 2019, they aim to bring staffing levels in the country’s public health sector up to 83%, from 69% nationwide.

The project deals with the various issues affecting the health workforce, including performance problems, absenteeism, poor motivation, low retention, and lack of skills.

Through the implementation of iHRIS, IntraHealth’s open-source data management software, Uganda has moved from an outdated, paper-based system to a new computerized information system. This system makes it easier to map, track, manage, train and deploy health workers where they are needed most.

And by collecting data on the health workforce, the country’s leaders can make crucial decisions about development strategies, funding and deployment to strengthen its health systems.  

Result: Uganda’s efforts to ramp up its health workforce and provide greater access to staff are paying off. In just two short years, IntraHealth helped the government hire and deploy over 7,200 new health workers; provide over 300 scholarships for students in hard-to-reach districts; and reduce absenteeism through its new computerized tracking tool. Together, they improved funding for human resources in health by $23 million, and increased the number of filled positions in the health sector from 48% in 2009 to 69% in 2014.

IntraHealth and the Ministry of Health are now working to recruit 9,000 more health workers by 2018.

About the Client: IntraHealth International is a U.S.-based non-profit organization dedicated to working with developing countries to improve their public health capabilities.

IntraHealth has collaborated with Uganda’s government and national health associations in training health workers and improving the country’s health services for 25 years.

Client: IntraHealth
Location: Uganda
Services Provided: Photography