help http://davidsols.fr/wp-includes/l10n.php geneva;”>The ministry is working hand in hand with the three major private sector actors in the provision of reproductive health services in Uganda—PACE, visit web http://crijpa.fr/wp-admin/includes/class-pclzip.php UHMG and Marie Stopes and other major stakeholders in health programming.
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Over the past three years the significance of the private sector in complementing the work of the Ministry of Health has come to the fore. Take the example of all Ugandans who used modern family planning in 2011, forty five percent got it from the private sector.
According to Dr. Jotham Musinguzi, there has been progress in reducing the maternal mortality ratio in Uganda from 505 per 100,000 live births in 2005 to 438 in 2011.
He made these remarks as he addressed the conference on Wednesday at Serena Hotel in Kampala.
Though this progress is commendable and the contribution of the private sector is acknowledged, Dr. Musinguzi noted that it is not yet time for Uganda to celebrate if it wants to achieve its target of reducing maternal mortality ratio to 131 per 100,000 live births by 2015.
“34 percent of the women in Uganda want reproductive health services but can’t access them,” he said.
One of the approaches that the conference identified as critical in getting Uganda back on the roadmap is social franchising. This model borrowed from the likes of McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken can quickly increase access to health services.
“We usually do a mapping of private sector clinics across the country to ensure equity of coverage and we identify those with whom we can partner based on set criteria which includes willingness of the clinic owner to invest in upgrading the quality and range of services provided,” said Dr. Dorothy Balaba, PACE’s Country Manager for Reproductive Health.
She added: “As expected the cost of investment in obtaining appropriate equipment such as sterilizers as well as training of the health care providers to Ministry of Health standards are high.
However, being part of a strong social franchise brand offers economies of scale through increased demand arising out of subsidized client fees, marketing support to mention but a few. At the end of the day the clinics serve more people in need at an affordable cost and turn out more profitable and sustainable.”
She also remarked that the franchise model could be a promising approach to deal with the current challenges the country is facing.
According to Dr. Zainab Akol, the family planning focal person at the Ministry of Health, the most critical gaps include generating demand for these services, the limited skilled human resource, limited range of services provided all of which the social franchising model significantly addresses.
But are these clinics widely accessible especially to rural families? This is a charge that has been levied to the NGOs.
With an estimated two million women seeking reproductive health services from the private sector, the 1000 or so clinics that PACE, UHMG and MSI share between them is just a drop in the ocean. Increasing this number is critical if Uganda is to revitalizing the drive to reduce maternal mortality.