(L-R) Dr Elizabeth Ekirapa- Kiracho, Rt Hon. Rebecca Kadaga and Ms Veronica Kadogo Babirye
By Kakaire Ayub Kirunda
Having a meeting with a speaker of parliament is no small feat, especially at a time when the national assembly is busy discussing the 2011/2012 budget. But the Uganda FHS team last week (August 15) managed to have an hour with Speaker the Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga at her offices in Kampala.
The timing could not have been better, coming hot on the heels of Parliament refusing to pass the Ministry of Health’s budget, due to diversion of some of the funds meant for maternal health to work workshops and seminars.
The four-person team from the Makerere University School of Public Health was led by Dr Elizabeth Ekirapa-Kiracho, who briefed the speaker about FHS -- especially on the Safe Deliveries Project and the upcoming second phase of FHS work. Buyende District Woman Member of Parliament, Ms Veronica Kadogo Babirye, whose district is a beneficiary of the project, coordinated the meeting.
Dr Ekirapa told the Speaker that the Safe Deliveries project, which has been implemented in four districts in Eastern Uganda, has seen an upsurge in women delivering in health facilities unlike before the intervention.
She hastened to add that the project was funded through development partners, and that project sustainability was an issue. She noted that more research was needed to find more effective ways for communities, using locally available resources, to contribute to such interventions. This, she explained, was going to be the focus of the second phase of Future Health Systems in Uganda, which starts in October 2011.
Speaker Kadaga, a strong maternal health advocate commended the team for the research saying the meeting was timely because as Parliament was scrutinizing ministerial policy statements.
“This is good work and we shall share it with members of the Network of African Women Ministers and Parliamentarians. We are currently handling budgets are certainly this information is helpful,” she said further asking the research team to avail her office with a detailed cost-benefit analysis. The speaker’s office has since been furnished with the additional information.
The speaker said effective delivery of services in the country was being affected by implementation that is not based on evidence.
Following the success of the Safe Deliveries Project, the second phase of FHS Uganda will focus on developing on a more sustainable mechanism of financing and managing the project so that the gains can be sustained.