As countries increasingly collaborate in health as part of commitments to international health goals, the UK has become a frequent host of high-level symposiums on UK and Uganda healthcare collaborations.

This Saturday (22nd April 2017), the British Medical Association House on Tavistock Square, in Central London will host the first UK-East African Healthcare summit discussing public healthcare progress and challenges with the existing projects between the UK and the three East African countries (Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania), as well as highlighting new investment and collaboration opportunities.

This Saturday's summit

The summit will be attended by government officials and delegates including the UK based High Commissioners from the three East African countries, policy makers from all represented countries, senior hospital Directors and CEO's, diaspora, healthcare professionals, healthcare investors and solution providers, education, research and development institutions representatives.

Earlier, on January 24th 2017, the UK Houses of Parliament hosted the last UK-Uganda public healthcare meeting reviewing existing public healthcare projects between the UK and the Government of Uganda and also highlighting opportunities for further collaboration and investment, and attended by Senior health experts and government leaders from both countries.

Lord Nigel Crisp, a prominent public health advocate and former Chief Executive of the National Health Services (NHS) arranged the UK Houses of Parliament as the venue, chairing and hosting the event on behalf of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global Health.

The collaboration between the UK and Uganda public healthcare institutions is largely through the Uganda UK Health Alliance (UUKHA) the UK registered body with offices in both countries (the Ugandan one being at Uganda's Ministry of Health in Kampala, Uganda's capital city) and main organiser of most such events.

The first session of the January 24th event started at the MSE meeting room on Oxford Street before the later-afternoon expert panel discussion at the UK Houses of Parliament and the latter also open, to non-UUKHA members in the UK and seeking opportunities and collaborations in Uganda's health sector.

Others present included Consecutive life peer in the House of Lords Dolar Popat and Prime Ministerial Trade Envoy to Uganda and Ugandan delegates led by the Permanent Secretary for Uganda's Ministry of Health Dr.Diana Atwine.

Other Ugandan delegates present included Prof Nelson Sewankambo a renown Ugandan medical researcher and former Principal of Makerere University College of Health Sciences, Prof. Kaleebu Pontiano the Director of Uganda Virus Research Institute, Dr. Byaruhanga Baterana the Executive Director of Uganda's biggest public and national referral hospital Mulago, Prof.Charles Ibingira the Principal Makerere University College of Health Sciences and Dr. Paul Bagala the UUKHA Uganda Country Coordinator.

Through the collaboration, there is increased focus on non-communicable diseases including mental health, hypertension, diabetes, heart diseases, obesity, chronic respiratory diseases and some forms of cancer in both countries which are on the rise in both countries.

UK and Uganda Healthcare Collaborations Are Response to Universal Calls for Global Health Improvements for World's Poorest.

Prof.Ged Bryne a clinical academic surgeon and Director of Education and Quality for Health Education England (and Co-Chair UUKHA in the UK) revealed at the January 24th 2017 event, that the main purpose of UUKHA since its set up in 2013 is;

  • Supporting the Ugandan government in workforce development, healthcare systems strengthening and contributing towards achieving health-related development goals.
  • Providing opportunities for learning and development of health workers and institutions in both countries, including the promotion of bidirectional professional volunteering and the development of standard models
  • Promoting increased coordination, collaboration and a joint approach of UK based healthcare organisations operating in Uganda.

Currently, five thematic areas of collaboration exist through the partnership and these being:

  • Public Health
  • Quality and Safety
  • Educational Development
  • Collaborative Research
  • Leadership and Governance

Dr.Diana Atwine who is Co-Chair UUKHA-Uganda said the collaboration has stirred Uganda in changing its public health policy from the curative one that focuses on treating diseases, to a preventative one that emphasises a healthy lifestyle in order to reduce hospital admissions.

"Uganda is now changing from just a curative public health policy. We are going to put all our strength on disease prevention in public health. Disease prevention is the only means to reduce the morbidity and mortality of our people," she explained.

Helen Slattery with the University of Manchester said at the morning event about the Alliance (UUKHA) resulting in the establishment of a link between the University Hospital South Manchester Academy and Gulu Regional Referral Hospital and Gulu University respectively (Gulu is in the Northern part of Uganda).

Other benefits of the collaboration are the establishment of a maternal and neo-natal hub at Gulu Regional Referral Hospital and medical training being conducted for students of Gulu University hospital with support from the Manchester based university.

A total of 400 medical staff with the NHS have also had voluntarily medical placements in Gulu since 2013.