On 24th April 2022, Dr Diana Atwine the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health Uganda, was welcomed to the United Kingdom by Amb. John Leonard Mugerwa, the Ag Uganda High Commissioner to UK and Northern Ireland for a week-long trip on government-to-government engagements in the health sector. She started the trip with working dinner organized by Kids Operating Room (Kids OR) Charity in which Permanent Secretaries from the East African region were invited to discuss sustainability of the initiatives undertaken by Kids OR through increasing access to surgical services to children across Africa. Kids OR has been working with MOH since 2015 and have so far constructed 5 pediatric operating theatres in the country. Dr Diana welcomed the charity leadership to work more closely with government in order to scale up and ensure sustainability of these initiatives.
The following day on the 25th April 2022, Dr Diana led a multisectoral delegation to attend the UK East Africa Health Summit at the British Medical Association (BMA) House in London. The UK East Africa Summit was convened by several UK institutions that included The Wellcome Trust, British Medical Journal, NHS Health Education England as well as the different diaspora associations of East Africa.
The Permanent Secretary was joined in the summit by Rt Hon Rebecca Kadaga (1st Deputy Prime Minister of Uganda and Minister for East African Community Affairs), Amb. John Leonard Mugerwa (Ag. Uganda High Commissioner to UK and Northern Ireland), Hon Diana Mutasingwa (State Minister and Woman MP Buikwe District), Hon Dr Charles Ayume Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Health, Mr Moses Mulimira and Dr Henry Muwonge (Both Country Leads of the Uganda UK Health Alliance) among other officials.
This event was graced by HE Samia Suluhu Hassan, The President of the Republic of Tanzania who delivered her opening remarks virtually and thanked the UK for its renewed cooperation with the East African Community in Health Sector Development
Along other Permanent Secretaries from the Region, Dr Diana presented the Priorities of Uganda’s Health Sector in the current Health Sector Development Plan (2020/2021-2024/2025) and mobilised for UK led global health partnerships to work with the Ministry of Health in achieving these priorities.
The priorities she presented include health workforce development, improved quality of care, improved access to safe medicines and infrastructure development.
Uganda was highly praised for its performance in controlling the COVID 19 Pandemic. In turn, the conveners awarded President Museveni and Dr Diana Atwine for the impressive leadership in response to the pandemic.
The Rt Hon Rebecca Kadaga and Hon Diana Mutasingwa delivered keynote addresses while Hon Ayume joined a high-profile panel on “setting local research agenda and funding local research institutions in health and climate change” with fellow MPs from the East African region.
During the summit, the Dr Diana and Prof. Ged Byrne her Co-Chair of the Uganda UK Health Alliance exchanged awards in recognition of their contribution to global health for both UK and Uganda
The summit was aired on BBC
“The summit has provided a platform for governments, institutions and individuals to share expertise and opportunities for equitable recovery from the COVID 19 Pandemic.” Moses Mulimira, Lead, UK East Africa Health Summit
After the Summit, the week had just started and on Tuesday 26th April Dr Diana spent the day with her delegation at the UK Parliament in back-to-back engagements in the House of Lords and the House of Commons. These engagements included; The Uganda UK Health Investment round table meeting, the All-People Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) on Malaria, Neglected Tropical Diseases and Maternal Health.
The Health Investment round table meeting was hosted by Lord Dolar Popat; the UK Trade Envoy to Uganda, Rwanda and DRC and was attended by notable companies in the life sciences industry who are interested in investing in Uganda’s Health Sector especially in pharmaceutical manufacturing.
For this meeting with companies, Dr Diana presented the master plan of the Health Sector and the Uganda Investment Authority to establish a pharmaceutical Industrial Park in Nakasongola District which will provide a dedicated economic zone for pharmaceutical manufacturing as well as other areas for UK led Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
The Lord Popat will be leading UK Trade Mission to Uganda on these opportunities.
During the APPG meetings on Malaria, NTDS and Maternal Health, the PS mobilised for continued support towards ending Malaria and NTDs as well as improving the Health of Mothers.
The next day was a technical day for the Strengthening Health Workforce Capacity through Global Learning (SCALE) Program developed by the ministry of Health and NHS Health Education England (HEE) through Uganda UK Health Alliance to facilitate clinical subspeciality training pathways between Uganda and the UK in four (4) critical areas of Maternal Fetal Medicine, Critical Care, Emergency Medicine and Neonatology.
She started off with an early morning visit to University College London (UCL) to discuss partnerships in Maternal Fetal Medicine under the SCALE Program. She was impressed by the state-of-the-art facilities at UCL in Obstetric Care and thanked them for their involvement in the SCALE Program which will enable the transfer of these capabilities to Uganda. UCL further offered 2 maternal fetal medicine fellowships per year to Ugandan doctors and midwives which will contribute to improving maternal and perinatal outcomes.
In the chilly London weather, she then headed to Trafalgar Square to attend a joint Meeting with all institutions and Royal Colleges leading on the other components of the SCALE Program organised at the Uganda High Commission. The Meeting focused on expanding the current training pathways to start placements of Ugandan health workers in the UK and vice versa in the mentioned specialty areas.
The various UK institutions were pleased by the proactive attendance of H.E John Leonard Mugerwa the Acting Ambassador to the UK and Hon Dr Charles Ayume.
At 5:00pm (BST), Dr Diana and her team left the Uganda House to meet the CEO Moorfields Eye Hospital, London (one of the most specialised eye hospitals in the World). In this meeting, the PS mobilised for partnerships in training, service delivery, research and equipment donation in eye care.
She was impressed and blessed the efforts of Primrose Magala; an ophthalmic Nurse who works at Moorfield’s that has supported several eye programs in Uganda.
After a rollercoaster of days in the capital, the PS headed to Cambridge 89 km north of London to visit the Cambridge University Teaching Hospitals that are currently supporting a number of global health partnerships with Uganda and the delivery of the SCALE Program component on Critical Care
She was welcomed by the Hospital Senior Executives, consultants and other clinical and academic specialists who took her on a hospital tour.
She returned to attend a Grand Round on Critical Care where Clinicians from Uganda and the UK were sharing on obstetric critical care.
See a Press Release by Cambridge Global Health Partnerships
The day ended with discussions to further develop the critical care partnership including the possibility of a nursing exchange between the countries.
After an intense but fruitful week, Dr Diana flew back to Uganda on Friday with a full list of important actions on UK led partnerships to start the Month of May.
“I want to thank you Dr Atwine for your indefatigable efforts in mobilizing UK led global health partnerships to contribute to the development of Uganda’s health sector and shared prosperity between our two countries” Lord Dolar Popat