STRIDES for Family Health Launches in Uganda—a Sustainable Approach to Strengthening Family Health Services

The STRIDES for Family Health project was officially launched August 27 in Kampala, Uganda, in an event attended by representatives from MSH and its project partners, the Uganda Ministry of Health, the Uganda Parliament, and the Uganda USAID Mission. Other attendees included administrative and health officials from the 15 Ugandan districts collaborating with the USAID-funded STRIDES project, and representatives from civil society and other stakeholder organizations.

Speakers addressed different aspects of the STRIDES project and highlighted the importance of all parties working together toward achieving project objectives and success. According to “The New Vision,” a leading Ugandan news website, one of the presenters, Paul Hamilton, MSH staff and director of the project, said that the STRIDES project would allow health centers to offer a full package of integrated reproductive health/family planning and child survival services at each center; for example, enabling a mother who “brings her child for immunization [to] also access family planning services during the same visit or be tested for HIV.”
[Guest of honor, Dr. Nathan Kenya Mugisha, Director of Clinical Services, Uganda Ministry of Health, addresses the audience at the STRIDES project launch. Photo Credit: Fenon Entertainment]Guest of honor, Dr. Nathan Kenya Mugisha, Director of Clinical Services, Uganda Ministry of Health, addresses the audience at the STRIDES project launch. Photo Credit: Fenon EntertainmentAt the community level, the project will strengthen family health services by building the capacity of and connecting the many local organizations—nongovernmental, community-based, and faith-based—that deliver a large portion of Uganda’s health services so they can cover the same package of integrated family planning/reproductive health services—including information on healthy timing and spacing of pregnancy—and child survival services offered at district health facilities. Village health teams, comprised of community health workers and an extension of the government health system at the community level, also will be strengthened by STRIDES. The project will provide support to both the public and private sector to ensure that high-quality services are delivered using the comparative advantage of each.

The goal of the STRIDES project is to give “over eight million people access to quality health services in these districts five years from now,” said another MSH speaker at the launch, Gloria Sangiwa, Director of Technical Quality and Innovations. According to the 2006 Uganda Demographic Health Survey, only 24 percent of women in the reproductive age group were using family planning, and the percentage of women who would want to space or limit births but cannot get family planning services was 41 percent. Through the STRIDES project’s efforts to increase access to essential services in the 15 selected districts, contraceptive use and healthy timing and spacing of pregnancy will increase, lowering maternal, neonatal, and child mobility and mortality.

To improve staff retention and achieve family planning/reproductive health and child survival services that are high-quality and cost-effective, the STRIDES project will be using performance-based mechanisms at both the district and community levels in all 15 target districts. In the process, genuine public-private partnerships will be formed, tested, and strengthened, ensuring the sustainability of those services over the long-term.

In addition to MSH, the USAID-funded STRIDES for Family Health Project in Uganda will be implemented in partnership with Jhpiego, Meridian International, and the Ugandan organizations Communication for Development Foundation Uganda (CDFU) and the Uganda Private Midwives Association (UPMA).

For the full article from “New Vision”

The STRIDES Family Health project will be collaborating and drawing on expertise and capacity in HIV/AIDS/TB-focused activities, monitoring and evaluation, and management of commodities and drugs with two other MSH projects in Uganda, including Strengthening AIDS and TB Response in Eastern Uganda (STAR-E) project and the Securing Uganda’s Right to Essential Medicines (SURE) project.
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