Training Managers to Transform the Health System

This blog post is excerpted from an original post on the IntraHealth International blog.

Charles MatsikoWe often talk about how countries grapple with the challenge of building and maintaining a health workforce that can deliver high-quality health services. I wanted to share some recent successes from Uganda, and work being supported by the Uganda Capacity Program.

In an effort to staff the health sector with managers who possess the knowledge, skills, and professional attitudes required to assume leadership roles in Uganda’s public and private health systems, the Uganda Capacity Program, together with CapacityPlus, recently launched a collaborative training program with the Uganda Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Makerere University School of Public Health.

The six-month leadership and management course aims to produce health managers who are equipped to lead with practical skills. Like many other developing countries, Uganda has existing standards, policies, and strategic and operational plans for the health sector, but often they are not widely or purposefully implemented. Staff outside of headquarters may not be sufficiently informed to use these tools to guide their work, and instead use a trial-and-error approach rather than a systematic one.

The success of this program will depend on the commitment of top-level MOH leadership to:

  • Reinforce among senior ministry staff the importance of the leadership and management program as an important way of building stronger health systems
  • Carefully select input to the program
  • Apply lessons learned through the training to improve systems
  • Sustain an ongoing stakeholder leadership group after the conclusion of the program.

“In the past, the HRH Action Framework has been used to help the MOH obtain a loan of $130 million—$7 million dollars of that would be allocated to the HRH component of the health sector in order to address productivity of civil servants. Bad things have become normal in the Ugandan civil service!” said Dr. Francis Runumi, the commissioner of health services in charge of planning at the MOH. “We have decided that every project coming to the MOH must have a component of leadership and management. You are few, but you will multiply. We need to have this collaboration strengthened.”

Uganda Capacity Program Chief of Party Dr. Vincent Oketcho emphasized the need for this training program: “In Uganda, it has been observed that health workers report to duty late and leave early. They lack a good working environment and supervision. The difference between the public and private sector organizations lies in the area of leadership and management; we need to put things right.”

Building on this innovative training approach, the Uganda Capacity Program will identify other effective HRH managers who can also serve as mentors. At the district level, the training program will also include health workers and managers from the public and private sectors. The core team of trainers together with facilitators from the College of Health Sciences and the MOH will take the lead in coaching and supporting trainees through work site visits.

The Uganda Capacity Program is IntraHealth-led and USAID-funded.


Photo courtesy of IntraHealth International