Utilizing Health Workforce Information and Mobile Phone Technology in Uganda

The Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners’ Council (UMDPC) recently launched a new mobile directory, which provides information Ugandans can use to seek health services from qualified health workers at qualified facilities. By combining health workforce data with mobile phone technology, the system also allows council staff and health facility managers to easily verify health professionals’ credentials and cut down on unqualified practitioners.

The health workforce data is captured in iHRIS Qualify, a health worker registration and licensure tracking system developed and supported by CapacityPlus . iHRIS Qualify is part of the larger Suite of open source software. Over a dozen countries in Africa and Asia are implementing the iHRIS software products and contributing to their development. In some countries, like Uganda, other USAID-funded projects are providing technical assistance.

All medical and dental practitioners in Uganda are required to register with the UMDPC and obtain an annual practicing license. Unfortunately, many are not properly registered while others have no valid license. On top of this, some people pose as medical practitioners without appropriate training, which can result in poor quality or harmful health services, and has led to many complaints filed with the council.

The Uganda Capacity Program —headed by CapacityPlus lead partner IntraHealth International —works with the UMDPC in various ways, including supporting iHRIS Qualify at the council and helping to develop the mobile directory.

Records on 3,877 doctors and dentists are available in the council’s iHRIS Qualify system. Now, using SMS technology, this information can be accessed by anyone, anywhere in the country. All one needs to do is type “doctor” followed by a health worker’s name into a mobile phone, and send it to the council. Information received will indicate if the doctor or dentist has registered, has a current license, and has a specialty. Similar information can be determined for more than 3,500 facilities.

The Uganda Capacity Program plans to tailor the service for the other health professional councils in the country: the Pharmacy Council, the Allied Health Workers’ Council, and the Uganda Nurses and Midwives Council.