Global Health Partnerships are playing a significant role in addressing health system challenges in many Low- and Middle-Income Countries through placement of professionals and volunteers to build capacity, quality improvement and complement service delivery. As an existing collaboration with NHS-Health Education England (HEE) and Ministry of Health-Uganda (MoH), the Uganda UK Health alliance provides coordination support to professional exchange between Uganda and the UK whilst working with different government agencies to streamline and enrich the process of global health placements.
In December 2021, the Uganda UK Health Alliance embarked on a survey of select host institutions across different regions of Uganda
Objectives: This survey was carried out to obtain perspectives from host Institutions in Uganda on how to improve UK Global Health Placements and how the host institutions can best benefit from the placements.
Methods: The survey was conducted in 5 Regional Referral Hospitals (RRH), 2 Universities and 2 Private Not for Profit Hospitals which were selected purposively. These institutions included; Mbale RRH, Gulu RRH, Lira RRH, Masaka RRH, Kabale RRH, Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Lira University, Ruharo Hospital, Rushere Community Hospital.
The survey questionnaire was administered to key informants followed by a visit around the Institutions visited and guided interaction with staff by the institutional head.
Results: A total of 36 respondents from 9 institutions were interviewed during the study. 8/9 Institutions had received International Professionals/Trainees on global health placements in the last 5 years.
Only 5/9 had received volunteers from the UK. And these had been received from different institutions in the UK. The commonest duration of stay for the volunteers was short duration of less than 6 months. The Volunteers were mostly on placements related to Clinical care, Training and Quality Improvement. Of the institutions that had received UK Volunteers, the top three (3) benefits of having these professionals/volunteers were capacity development, reduction in shortages in human resource and equipment donation.
4/9 institutions had Accomodation facilities dedicated to international volunteers, 9/9 demonstrated the willingness to support other basic needs for volunteers once resources are available.
Challenges: The challenges faced by most institutions in hosting international volunteers included lack of resources for the logistical needs of the volunteers (Accomodation, Meals and Transport). Lack of an orientation and supervision guidelines for the volunteers. All institutions expressed the need for reciprocal placements of Ugandan Professionals/trainees in the UK to learn from best practices.
The top 5 priority training and clinical areas where UK Volunteers were most included; Maternal Health, Neonatology, Intensive Care, Non-Communicable Diseases, Diagnostics and Imaging
Conclusions: Many Institutions in Uganda received UK Volunteers who contribute significantly to training and service delivery. However, the different institutions host a small number of UK Volunteers due to logistical limitations and lack of linkage to UK institutions that send volunteers overseas.
Recommendations: We recommend from the survey that there is need to support host institutions to map out areas where UK Volunteers are most needed and profile them to potential volunteers.
Click here to see Volunteer Opportunities for the individual Host Institutions surveyed.