Alex Kakala, Senior Quality Improvement Advisor for the USAID RHITES-North Acholi Activity. Photo credit: URC

Five URC staff members are among 15 who recently received awards from the Uganda Ministry of Health (MOH) for their leadership and contributions to quality improvement (QI) in health care in Uganda.

The URC QI award winners are:

Augustin Muhwezi, MD

Chief of Party
RHITES-East Central Activity

Alex Kakala

Senior Quality Improvement Advisor
(seconded to the MOH)
RHITES-North, Acholi Activity

Benson Tumwesigye, MD

Senior Quality Improvement Advisor
(seconded to the MOH)
RHITES-North, Acholi Activity

Elizabeth Namagala, MD

Quality Improvement Advisor
(seconded to the MOH)
RHITES-North, Acholi Activity

Juliana Nabwire

Director, Quality and Performance
RHITES-North, Acholi Activity

The staff members – representing two of the four projects URC is leading in Uganda – received the “National MOH Award for Outstanding Technical Support towards Quality Improvement Implementation for Health Services in Uganda.”

In health care, QI is a commonly used framework to improve how care is delivered, focusing on improving systems and processes. The awards recognized staff members who:

  • Had provided technical support for QI for more than 10 years at the national, sub-national, and district levels;
  • Led QI research and/or operational research that helped develop change packages to guide scale-up of care improvements;
  • Published and disseminated QI innovations at high-level meetings and conferences, creating visibility for QI in Uganda; and
  • Advocated for funding for QI activities.

Good quality of care enhances client satisfaction and use of services and results in better health outcomes for service users. It also increases job satisfaction amongst health care providers.

This is the first time URC staff members have received such an award from the MOH. The awards were announced at the 8th National Quality Improvement Conference at the Speke Resort and Conference Center in Kampala in late November. Previously only two people have worn the award: Mwebesa Henery, MD, now Director General of Health Services, and Sarah Byakika, MD, now Commissioner Planning all MoH.

“This is a great honor and evidence that URC employs some of the best talent in QI in Uganda,” said Carlos Cuéllar, URC Executive Vice President.

Focused on Quality Improvement

The five staff members work for two URC-implemented programs:

URC has led programs in Uganda since the early 1990s, particularly focusing on crafting and refining quality QI approaches that increase the demand for, access to, and the quality of integrated health services.

If It’s Not Working…Fix It

One of the awardees – Augustin Muhwezi, MD, RHITES-EC Chief of Party – said he and his fellow URC staff are very proud and honored to have been recognized for their work by the MOH.

Dr. Muhwezi – paraphrasing William Edwards Deming, a leading management thinker in the field of quality – said that health systems are perfectly designed to deliver the results they do – including poor results.

So if a health system is not producing satisfactory results, “there is then no choice but to redesign the way health services are delivered, because people are working hard – they’re working as hard as they know how – and yet many times it is not working,” said Dr. Muhwezi. This is why URC uses a whole-system quality approach to ensure effective, integrated, and efficient delivery of health care, from developing health policies to coaching at the point of service delivery.