FEATURE: Uganda’s National Community Health Worker Strategy Launch
“This is a good step towards achieving better health for all Ugandans, to achieving Universal Health Coverage, and our targets in the Sustainable Development Goals”.
This was the message from the Honorable Dr Jane Ruth Aceng Ocero, Minister of Health of Uganda, as she launched the nation’s first ever National Community Health Worker Strategy (NCHWS) on February 9th 2023, at a high-level event near Kampala. mothers2mothers played an active role in the launch, and the associated community health week, after we had helped to shape the strategy itself, thanks to our close partnership with the Ugandan Ministry of Health. Now—with the NCHS ready to guide the implementation of the country’s Community Health Programme over the next five years—we stand ready to help take the strategy from idea to execution, both through Health System Strengthening support and on-the-ground service delivery.
m2m is delighted to see the strategy highlighting the potential of CHWs in delivering Integrated Primary Health Care as a lever to Universal Health Coverage (UHC)—a pillar of m2m’s own 2022-2026 Strategic Plan. Critically, the strategy recognizes that Community Health Workers (CHWs) must be set up for success, by being compensated, and correctly supported.
m2m remains committed to our peer-led model of highly skilled, local CHWs, and increasingly using our platform to advocate for greater recognition for CHWs and their further integration into national health infrastructures. A key focus of this is deepening partnerships, like the one with the Uganda Ministry of Health, and continuing to support African governments to unlock the power of female CHWs through certification, employment, and career pathing.
That is why we particularly welcome the following elements in Uganda’s NCHWS :
- Strategic Direction 1—“Increase availability and access (geographic and functional) to equitable and integrated CH services”—which is directly linked with our commitment to deliver Integrated Primary Health Care Services within m2m’s new Strategic Plan.
- Strategic Direction 2—“Ensure a skilled, equipped, committed, and compensated Community Health Workforce”—this is an opportunity to standardise recruitment and training, and create a cadre of certified, accredited CHWs, delivering better health outcomes for communities, and better career paths for CHWs.
We also fully endorse Objective 2.2., which argues that Community Health Workers must be “Digitised, Equipped, Supported, and Compensated”. This aligns with our experience and expertise over the past 20 years:
- Digitised: Ensuring CHWs have access to mobile tools brings multiple benefits. It allows for more effective training and communication, supports service delivery, and enables effective data collection and analysis. All m2m CHWs have digital devices and use two bespoke apps to deliver services and capture data. We also have a robust, digital M&E system that feeds into national databases to allow for evidence-based decision making.
- Equipped: CHWs must have the tools they need to do their job and deliver impact. This includes appropriate personal protective equipment, clinical supplies, and more.
- Supported: Supportive supervision is essential to the success of CHWs. m2m invests in recruitment, training, and supportive supervision—a critical element in our success.
- Compensated: Fair compensation for CHWs is not just ethical, it helps to improve impact through increased commitment and focus from CHWs. In fact, an international study suggests that each $1 invested in CHW programmes delivers a $10 return.
Community Health Week:
Throughout the week, the m2m team (including Uganda Country Director Dr. Agnes Kobusingye; m2m Spokeswomen Teddy Atim and Cissy Mirembe; and Global Communications Director Dillon Mann) participated in various events, including a community learning session in Kawempe, Kampala on Monday, where m2m engaged with the work of other excellent CHW organisations like Living Goods, Amref Health Africa, and Nama Community Wellness Centre.
Wednesday saw Dr. Agnes speak on a high-level panel during a pre-launch stakeholder meeting, where she shared that: “We are delighted to see the Ministry launch the ‘What’. Now is the time to ensure we reach the ‘How’ quickly”. Emphasising that “mothers2mothers will play our part”, she called on all in the room to join her in vocalising their commitment.
The week was rounded up by the high-level launch of the National Community Health Worker Strategy, during which m2m Spokeswomen Teddy Atim and Cissy Mirembe shared more about their work and experiences at m2m’s exhibition stall. They engaged with notable attendees, who included Hon. Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng (Minister of Health Uganda), Dr. Daniel Kyabayinze (Director Public Health at the Ministry of Health), Dr. George Upenthyo (Commissioner of Health Services for Community Health), Dr. Jessica Nsungwa (Commissioner, Maternal Newborn and Child Health), and many others.
What were m2m Spokeswoman Teddy Atim’s takeaways from the week?
“As a CHW myself, it means a lot to see the government commit to investing in us as an important part of the country’s health system. It made me feel like our work is valued. Because CHWs really need to be supported, well equipped, and compensated to do their job well. For Ugandans, this means more chances to be healthy, to stop diseases before they start, and to manage health conditions. CHWs being invested in and supported in this way means better health for all Ugandans and a brighter future.”
Partner With m2m:
After the momentum of this week, we are excited to turn the “What” into the “How” through health system strengthening support to the Ministry and on the ground implementation. m2m remains more than ever committed to helping build a healthier, more prosperous future for all Ugandans through the power of paid, professionalised CHWs.
If you are interested in finding out more about our work or want to discuss partnership opportunities in Uganda, please contact Dr. Agnes Kobusingye at [email protected].
Watch to Learn More:
“Right now, there are many [community health] models, and the services are fragmented. [But] this strategy will align us. It is a beginning of a new era.” – Dr. Agnes Kobusingye, m2m Country Director for Uganda, speaking last week to UBC Television Uganda.
️Watch the full interview below (Dr. Agnes Kobusingye’s remarks can be viewed from 1min22 onwards) .