On June 30th, URC and other consortium partners hosted the hybrid USAID Regional Health Integration to Enhance Services (RHITES) and Uganda Health Activity Learning Event at the Speke Resort Munyonyo in Kampala, Uganda.
Attended by nearly 1,200 in-person and online, the event convened stakeholders involved in the implementation of all the USAID RHITES projects in Uganda, including the URC-led USAID RHITES-EC and RHITES-N, Acholi Activities. The event focused on project successes, best practices identified, challenges, and lessons learned as the projects come to a close and the URC-led USAID Uganda Health Activity (USAID UHA) kicks off.
Learning from the USAID RHITES Projects
A knowledge bazaar invited in-person guests to engage with project teams for each of the projects and learn from their experiences, many of which were shared through a knowledge portal and videos.
Over the past six years, the USAID RHITES projects have collaborated closely with the Ministry of Health and local partners to strengthen the availability and accessibility of quality healthcare services in Uganda. These efforts have yielded positive outcomes for communities through a collaborative learning and adaptation approach, building local capacity, and reinforcing community structures in the five regions of Acholi, Ankole, Bugisu, Busoga, and Lango.
Launching the USAID Uganda Health Activity
The USAID Uganda Health Activity was awarded on December 5, 2022, with the aim of enhancing the survival and well-being of vulnerable populations and improving the overall resilience of the health system in 67 priority districts across seven regions: Acholi, Lango, Karamoja, Bugisu, Busoga, Ankole, and Kigezi. Additionally, USAID UHA will provide technical and organizational support to USAID local PEPFAR partners and seven G2G Regional Referral Hospitals.
USAID UHA will improve access to and use of quality health services, enhance local ownership and leadership, and strengthen the health system at the regional, district, facility, and community levels. Of note, USAID UHA will differ from the RHITES projects by focusing on family health interventions.
For the six months that USAID UHA has been in place, the Ministry of Health has already made significant strides, including:
- Developing the local maternal and neonatal care system – these are regional critical service delivery mechanisms – aimed at strengthening accountability for these services;
- Rolling out focused antenatal care guidelines across the seven regions; and
- Enhancing the resilience and responsiveness of the health system, while continuing to improve multi-stakeholder coordination and collaboration.
Speakers at the event shared some of their reflections.
Dr. Edward Bitarakwate, RHITES Southwest Chief of Party
“We have seen special emphasis on young people, with the DREAMS program reaching over 400,000 adolescents’ girls and young women with HIV prevention packages.”
Adong Kevin Sunday, DREAMS Beneficiary
“Before joining the DREAMS program, I faced several challenges. Firstly, I did not have a job or any involvement in income-generating activities. My role was solely focused on being a stay-at-home mother and producing children. By the age of 20, I had already given birth to two children.”
“DREAMS provided us with financial literacy training, teaching us about savings. As a result, I am now an active member of our Village Loan and Savings Association (VLSA). I can support my husband in taking care of our children and myself, leading to a significant reduction in fights and arguments within our home. Moreover, I actively contribute to empowering and promoting the well-being of young girls in my community. I am so grateful to the American people for their generous support.”
Mark Kowalski, JSI Director International Division
“We are proud of our current work with RHITES advancing nutrition and malaria reduction activity, we look forward to further collaboration.”
Dr. Olaro Charles, Director Curative Services at the Ministry of Health
“We must build upon the foundation laid by the USAID RHITES Activity and continue our collective effort to ensure equitable access to quality healthcare for all our citizens as we truly see that we leave no one behind. The Ministry of Health made commitments in January 2023 to work with the USAID Uganda Health Activity and this commitment is to all our regional referral hospitals and districts to welcome and support the USAID Uganda Health Activity.”
Earl Gast, President of URC
“Through these projects, we’ve had the honor of contributing to service delivery improvement across health areas including material and child health, nutrition, WASH, HIV, TB and malaria. With the launch of the new USAID Uganda Health Activity, we will take the lessons learned and innovations from the RHITES activities and apply them to maximize the project’s impact on the health of the people of Uganda.”