USA Consultant Message: Partnership value for Uganda Christian University School of Medicine (Part I)
Originally posted at: https://www.ugandapartners.org/2019/04/usa-consultant-message-partnership-value-for-uganda-christian-university-school-of-medicine-part-i/
By Brendah Ndagire
In Uganda, there is 1 doctor per 65,000 people, and 1 dentist per 175,000 people. With more health workers, Ugandans will have better access to adequate healthcare, live longer, and have more dignified lives. Higher learning institutions in Uganda such as Makerere University and Uganda Christian University (UCU) are already recognizing this great need for more medical workers.
In February 2019, Doug Fountain, former faculty and administrator at UCU, returned to Uganda and UCU to conduct a series of consultation meetings. He saw the persistent challenge of inadequate health workers as a need for “not just filling clinical or hospital positions with just anybody to increase the number of doctors or dentists in Uganda,” but “to have high quality and trained doctors and dentists come out to fill these gaps.” Medical practitioners and other stakeholders need to continually ask, “what do we have to do to increase access to affordable, quality health care in Uganda?” He added that if educational institutions in Uganda do not invest in providing high-quality medical education, the health sector systems suffer.
Medical education institutions, such as Uganda Christian University, need to start connecting these dots, Doug asserted. Part of that connection for training institutions involves building and sustaining strong internal and external partnerships. Partners during Doug’s recent Uganda trip and who echoed his assertions were affiliates of the Christian Medical and Dental Association (USA), Johnson and Johnson Global Community Impact (Kenya), Novartis Social Business (Kenya) and Kabarak University (Kenya). Sitting together at the UCU School of Medicine, they sought to learn from UCU’s new experience of launching a medical school in September 2018.
Dr. Miriam Mutabazi of the UCU School of Medicine, and Executive Director of Save the Mothers, also was part of the partnership-seeking consultation meetings. While meeting with different stakeholders, other partners were identified. Among local partners targeted to be at the table were the Church of Uganda, Mengo Hospital, Makerere University, Uganda’s Ministry of Education and Sports, and the Ministry of Health.
“The formal role is that the University is operating under the Ministry of Education and Sports and the Ministry of Health through its branches, such as Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners’ Council,” Doug said. “They approve the curriculum and the teaching facilities. They also certify the medical training.”
Doug defined the informal role that “both sectors should play, include creating a conducive context for the school.” Informally, the players create policies and standards for the practice for the school. According to Doug, these include “internship management, clinical practice management, and helping hospitals navigate how to do placements for students.”
The system would benefit if both the Ugandan Education and Sports and the Health Ministries were active in resource mobilization, Doug said. He also observed an education gap, noting there are “very few donors or organizations invested in supporting medical education, particularly among high-quality private providers.”
Among East African partners who can also be viewed as external collaborators, Doug identified Kabarak University in Kenya, and Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center in Tanzania for UCU to consider. These universities have the same values of a Christ-centered higher education, integrated with science and medical education.
“We are seeing that Uganda is participating in the East African-wide set of medical standards,” Doug said. “That is helping to set an international or high bar for what quality health care means. (With about) 27 medical school across East Africa, if they are all held to the same standards, that is great. The whole region needs more high-quality medical practitioners, but it is good to have this higher level of standards. And by Uganda participating in that broader community, we expect overall health care quality to improve.”
Doug believes that the UCU School of Medicine can benefit from these coordinated partnerships in the form of faculty development workshops or curriculum development across institutions that are trying to define what it means to be a Christian and a medical practitioner.
“The partners that exist in East Africa are relevant,” Doug said. “Some of the multinational corporations that exist, such as Johnson and Johnson or Novartis, have global headquarters in North America or Europe, but they run their Africa strategy through an office in, for instance, Nairobi. The people in Nairobi have to know what is happening here in Uganda. That may look or feel like an internal partner when in fact they are also global partners.”
The School of Medicine students can benefit from the experiences of people who work with these companies, and who also have a comprehensive perspective on private and public medical practices in East Africa. According to Doug, the UCU School of Medicine can help in filling in gaps that exist in Uganda’s health sector, but it cannot do it on its own.
In Part II, Uganda Christian University Partners will share an interview with Doug to explore further why building partnerships is an important aspect of sustaining UCU School of Medicine.
More information about the Uganda Christian University School of Medicine can be obtained at https://www.ugandapartners.org/priority-projects. To support the School of Medicine, contact Mark Bartels, executive director, UCU Partners, at email@example.com or donate at: https://www.ugandapartners.org/donate/.