Bringing Health Workforce Information to the Public in Uganda
To bring the benefits of access to health worker information to the Ugandan public, the Ministry of Health, working closely with IntraHealth, organized a launch event earlier this month for the national human resources for health information system (HRHIS) in Uganda. The event highlighted the different functionalities of the system and the role HRHIS plays in the health system in Uganda. The event also marked a commitment by the Ministry of Health to increase transparency and accountability within the health sector.
The HRHIS is already being used widely. The system is operational at the Ministry of Health headquarters; all four health professional councils (the Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners Council, Uganda Nurses and Midwives Council, the Pharmacy Council, and the Allied Health Professionals’ Council); Mulago and Butabika national referral hospitals; the 13 regional referral hospitals; and 69 local government districts. Getting to this point represents not only a large amount of planning and development of the open source software-based system, based on IntraHealth’s iHRIS Qualify and iHRIS Manage software, but also intense training sessions with system managers and users. With all this information now available, the time had come to make the wider public aware of the system’s existence and the benefits it provides.
The HRHIS meets a variety of needs at a variety of levels, making information that was once buried in stacks of paper readily available. For example, the public can now easily verify registered and licensed health workers by logging into the computerized database of each health professional council. The public has already used this data to help track quack practitioners operating without a license.
The system also provides critical information to help the Ugandan government address health workforce challenges. For example, the health service commission can check health worker staffing levels per health facility by logging into the computerized HRHIS of the respective district. Training managers in the ministry of education can determine where graduates are practicing within the Ugandan health sector and compare the health worker cadres being trained versus the cadres actually needed in the different health centers to ensure alignment. The Uganda Capacity Program provides ongoing helpdesk support by email and telephone to all of these end-users.
At the launch event, human resources for health (HRH) managers from different institutions shared experiences with guests on how the HRHIS has transformed HRH management at their respective institutions. For example, the assistant commissioner of personnel and senior principal nursing officer from the Mulago National Referral Hospital presented a staff album—a report with photos of all nurses and midwives at the hospital. This new report allows hospital administrators to verify the staff in the hospital easily, unlike the previous paper-based album which was always difficult to update. For big hospitals like Mulago, where the senior principal nursing officer is responsible for over 800 nurses, this album is a critical supervision and monitoring tool.
Perhaps the most important aspect of the launch event was the government formally taking stewardship of the HRHIS which was stressed by His Excellency the Vice President of the Republic of Uganda Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi and other senior officials from government ministries. This stewardship is essential to long-term sustainability, to buy-in from other government institutions, and—perhaps most importantly—to creating trust in the system by the public who (based on increasing helpdesk inquiries) is now demanding health worker information.
The public media featured news about the launch widely. New Vision, the government-owned newspaper, ran an article on HRHIS urging the public to embrace the HRHIS innovation. The following day, HRHIS was the topic on a local FM radio station (Radio One) during its daily call-in program, Talk-Back. The public called in to give views on how HRHIS will transform the health sector, discussing the role the system plays in supporting transparency and accountability within the health sector.
Uganda’s HRHIS can be accessed at http://hris.health.go.ug