A strong pharmaceutical sector is a precondition for effective and efficient health care and financing systems, and thus for achieving the best possible health of a population. Supported by visionary, long-term donor funds, in conjunction with mutual trust, the USAID-funded Securing Ugandans' Rights to Essential Medicines (SURE) and Uganda Health Supply Chain (UHSC) program engaged in a close, more than 10 year-long (in 2018) collaboration with the Ministry of Health of Uganda. Over time, the partnership implemented numerous multi-pronged comprehensive changes in the pharmaceutical sector and conducted research to document successes and failures. We describe the evolution and key characteristics of the SURE/UHSC interventions.

In late 2010, Uganda introduced a supervision, performance assessment, and recognition strategy (SPARS) to improve staff capacity in medicines management in government and private not-for-profit health facilities. This paper assesses the impact of SPARS in health facilities during their first year of supervision. SPARS was effective in building health facility capacity in medicines management, with a median overall improvement of almost 70% during the first year. The greatest improvements occurred in prescribing quality and at lower levels of care, although the highest level of performance was achieved in storage management. We recommend broad dissemination of the SPARS approach in all Ugandan health facilities as well as in other countries seeking a practical strategy to improve medicines management performance.

To build capacity in medicines management, the Uganda Ministry of Health introduced a nationwide supervision, performance assessment and recognition strategy (SPARS) in 2012. Medicines management supervisors (MMS) assess performance using 25 indicators to identify problems, focus supervision, and monitor improvement in medicines stock and storage management, ordering and reporting, and prescribing and dispensing. Although the indicators are well-recognized and used internationally, little was known about the reliability of these indicators. An initial assessment of inter-rater reliability (IRR), which measures agreement among raters (i.e., MMS), showed poor IRR; subsequently, we implemented efforts to improve IRR. The aim of this study was to assess IRR for SPARS indicators at two subsequent time points to determine whether IRR increased following efforts to improve reproducibility. Initially only five (21%) indicators had acceptable reproducibility, defined as an IRR score ≥ 75%. At the initial assessment, prescribing quality indicators had the lowest and stock management indicators had the highest IRR. By the third IRR assessment, 12 (50%) indicators had acceptable reproducibility, and the overall IRR score improved from 57% to 72%. The IRR of simple indicators was consistently higher than that of complex indicators in the three assessment periods. We found no correlation between IRR scores and MMS experience or professional background.

The objective of this study was to describe the conceptual and implementation approach of selected digital health technologies that were tailored in various resource-constrained countries. Drawing from our multi-year institutional experience in more than 20 high disease-burden countries that aspire to meet the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3, we screened internal project documentation on various digital health tools that provide clarity in the conceptual and implementation approach. Taking into account geographic diversity, we provide a descriptive review of five selected case studies from Bangladesh (Asia), Mali (Francophone Africa), Uganda (East Africa), Mozambique (Lusophone Africa), and Namibia (Southern Africa). A key lesson learned is to harness and build on existing governance structures. The use of data for decision-making at all levels needs to be cultivated and sustained through multi-stakeholder partnerships. The next phase of information management development is to build systems for triangulation of data from patients, commodities, geomapping, and other parameters of the pharmaceutical system. A well-defined research agenda must be developed to determine the effectiveness of the country- and regional-level dashboards as an early warning system to mitigate stock-outs and wastage of medicines and commodities.

Road traffic injuries (RTIs) are commonly under-reported in low- and-medium-income countries. This study aimed to estimate the number of RTIs and determine the magnitude of under-reporting by traffic police and hospital registries. The police registry captured 14.4% of the estimated number of RTIs and the hospitals captured 60.4%. The estimated number of RTIs was higher than reported by either the police or the hospitals alone. Neither the police nor the hospitals provided accurate data on RTIs, calling for the strengthening of both sources of data.

This was a retrospective study of TB data for Kampala City for the period 2011–2015. We extracted data from the TB registers in the 52 diagnostic and treatment units in Kampala. We report on data for children 0 to 14 years. We accessed 33,221 TB patient records, of which 2,333 (7%) were children. The proportion of children with pulmonary TB was 80%. The TB notification rate among children in Kampala City showed a large decline (from 105 to 74 per 100,000) during the period. There was a slight improvement in the treatment success rate among the children.

In Gavi-eligible countries partnerships are dynamic networks of immunization actors who work together to support all stages and aspects of Gavi support. This paper describes a conceptual framework--the partnership framework--and analytic approach for evaluating the perceptions of partnerships’ value as well as the results from an application to one case in Uganda. We used a mixed-methods case study design embedded in the Gavi Full Country Evaluations to test the partnership framework on Uganda’s human papillomavirus vaccine application partnership. The partnership was not perceived to have increased the efficiency of the process, perhaps as a result of unclear or absent guidelines around roles and responsibilities. We concluded that the health and functioning of global health partnerships can be evaluated using the framework and approach presented here. Network theory and methods added value to the conceptual and analytic processes, and we recommend applying this approach to other global health partnerships to ensure that they are meeting the complex challenges they were designed to address.

Uganda’s Ministry of Health in 2012 implemented a comprehensive strategy (SPARS) to build medicines management capacity in public sector health facilities. The approach includes supportive supervision. This structured observational study assesses supportive supervision competency among medicines management supervisors (MMS). The study used structured observations of two groups of five purposely selected MMS—one group supervising facilities with greater medicines management improvement during one year of SPARS and one group with less improvement, based on quantitative metrics. Our results suggest that MMS’ supportive supervision competency is positively related to the SPARS effectiveness scores of the facilities they supervise. We recommend strategies to strengthen supportive supervision behaviors and skills.

We assessed community awareness about cervical cancer risk factors and symptoms and perceptions about prevention and cure of cervical cancer in order to contribute data to inform interventions to improve cervical cancer survival. The study was conducted in Gulu, a post-conflict district in Uganda in 2012. The sample included 448 adults. Recognition of cervical cancer risk factors and symptoms was high among study participants. Targeted interventions including increasing availability of HPV vaccination, population-based cervical screening and diagnostic services can translate high awareness into actual benefits.

LQAS is intended for use by local health teams to collect data at the district and sub-district levels. Our question is whether local health staff produce biased results as they are responsible for implementing the programs they also assess. This test-retest study replicates on a larger scale an earlier LQAS reliability assessment in Uganda. We conducted in two districts an LQAS survey using 15 local health staff as data collectors. A week later, the data collectors swapped districts, where they acted as disinterested non-local data collectors, repeating the LQAS survey with the same respondents. We analysed the resulting two data sets for agreement using Cohen’s Kappa. The findings of this study are remarkably similar to those produced in the first reliability study. There is no evidence that using local healthcare staff to collect LQAS data biases data collection in an LQAS study. The bias observed in the knowledge indicators was most likely due to a ‘practice effect’, whereby respondents increased their knowledge as a result of completing the first survey; no corresponding effect was seen in the practice indicators.


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