Publications by authors named "Juliet Bataringaya"

4 Publications

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How Can Digital Health Technologies Contribute to Sustainable Attainment of Universal Health Coverage in Africa? A Perspective.

Front Public Health 2019 15;7:341. Epub 2019 Nov 15.

International Health System Strengthening Expert, Accra, Ghana.

Innovative strategies such as digital health are needed to ensure attainment of the ambitious universal health coverage in Africa. However, their successful deployment on a wider scale faces several challenges on the continent. This article reviews the key benefits and challenges associated with the application of digital health for universal health coverage and propose a conceptual framework for its wide scale deployment in Africa. Digital health has several benefits. These include; improving access to health care services especially for those in hard-to-reach areas, improvements in safety and quality of healthcare services and products, improved knowledge and access of health workers and communities to health information; cost savings and efficiencies in health services delivery; and improvements in access to the social, economic and environmental determinants of health, all of which could contribute to the attainment of universal health coverage. However, digital health deployment in Africa is constrained by challenges such as poor coordination of mushrooming pilot projects, weak health systems, lack of awareness and knowledge about digital health, poor infrastructure such as unstable power supply, poor internet connectivity and lack of interoperability of the numerous digital health systems. Contribution of digital health to attainment of universal health coverage requires the presence of elements such as resilient health system, communities and access to the social and economic determinants of health. Further evidence and a conceptual framework are needed for successful and sustainable deployment of digital health for universal health coverage in Africa.
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November 2019

Conclusions of the digital health hub of the Transform Africa Summit (2018): strong government leadership and public-private-partnerships are key prerequisites for sustainable scale up of digital health in Africa.

BMC Proc 2018 15;12(Suppl 11):17. Epub 2018 Aug 15.

WHO Country Office, Kigali, Rwanda.

Background: The use of digital technologies to improve access to health is gaining momentum in Africa. This is more pertinent with the increasing penetration of mobile phone technology and internet use, and calls for innovative strategies to support implementation of the health-related Sustainable Development Goals and Universal Health Coverage on the continent. However, the huge potential benefits of digital health to advance health services delivery in Africa is yet to be fully harnessed due to critical challenges such as proliferation of pilot projects, poor coordination, inadequate preparedness of the African health workforce for digital health, lack of interoperability and inadequate sustainable financing, among others. To discuss these challenges and propose the way forward for rapid, cost-effective and sustainable deployment of digital health in Africa, a Digital Health Hub was held in Kigali from 8th to 9th May 2018 under the umbrella of the Transform Africa Summit 2018.

Methods: The hub was organized around five thematic areas which explored the status, leadership, innovations, sustainable financing of digital health and its deployment for prevention and control of Non-Communicable Diseases in Africa. It was attended by over 200 participants from Ministries of Health and Information and Communication Technology, Private Sector, Operators, International Organizations, Civil Society and Academia.

Conclusions: The hub concluded that while digital health offers major opportunities for strengthening health systems towards the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals including Universal Health Coverage in Africa, there is need to move from Donor-driven pilot projects to more sustainable and longer term nationally owned programmes to reap its benefits. This would require the use of people-centred approaches which are demand, rather than supply-driven in order to avoid fragmentation and wastage of health resources. Government leadership is also critical in ensuring the availability of an enabling environment including national digital health strategies, regulatory, coordination, sustainable financing mechanisms and building of the necessary partnerships for digital health.

Recommendations: We call on the Smart Africa Secretariat, African Ministries in charge of health, information and communication technology and relevant stakeholders to ensure that the key recommendations of the hub are implemented.
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August 2018

A critique of the Uganda district league table using a normative health system performance assessment framework.

BMC Health Serv Res 2018 05 10;18(1):355. Epub 2018 May 10.

Public Health Department, Institute of Tropical Medicine, 155 Nationalestraat, 2000, Antwerp, Belgium.

Background: In 2003 the Uganda Ministry of Health (MoH) introduced the District League Table (DLT) to track district performance. This review of the DLT is intended to add to the evidence base on Health Systems Performance Assessment (HSPA) globally, with emphasis on Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs), and provide recommendations for adjustments to the current Ugandan reality.

Methods: A normative HSPA framework was used to inform the development of a Key Informant Interview (KII) tool. Thirty Key Informants were interviewed, purposively selected from the Ugandan health system on the basis of having developed or used the DLT. KII data and information from published and grey literature on the Uganda health system was analyzed using deductive analysis.

Results: Stakeholder involvement in the development of the DLT was limited, including MoH officials and development partners, and a few district technical managers. Uganda policy documents articulate a conceptually broad health system whereas the DLT focuses on a healthcare system. The complexity and dynamism of the Uganda health system was insufficiently acknowledged by the HSPA framework. Though DLT objectives and indicators were articulated, there was no conceptual reference model and lack of clarity on the constitutive dimensions. The DLT mechanisms for change were not explicit. The DLT compared markedly different districts and did not identify factors behind observed performance. Uganda lacks a designated institutional unit for the analysis and presentation of HSPA data, and there are challenges in data quality and range.

Conclusions: The critique of the DLT using a normative model supported the development of recommendation for Uganda district HSPA and provides lessons for other LMICs. A similar approach can be used by researchers and policy makers elsewhere for the review and development of other frameworks. Adjustments in Uganda district HSPA should consider: wider stakeholder involvement with more district managers including political, administrative and technical; better anchoring within the national health system framework; integration of the notion of complexity in the design of the framework; and emphasis on facilitating district decision-making and learning. There is need to improve data quality and range and additional approaches for data analysis and presentation.
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May 2018

National health research systems in the WHO African Region: current status and the way forward.

Health Res Policy Syst 2015 Oct 30;13:61. Epub 2015 Oct 30.

Research, Publications and Library Services Programme, Health Systems & Services Cluster, World Health Organization, Regional Office for Africa, Brazzaville, Congo.

Background: A number of resolutions of the World Health Assembly and the WHO Regional Committee for Africa call upon African countries and their development partners to make the required investments in national health research systems (NHRS) to generate knowledge and promote its use in tackling priority public health challenges. Implementation of these resolutions is critical for Africa to progress with the rest of the world in achieving the post-2015 health sustainable development goal. This study assesses the current status of some NHRS components in the 47 countries of the WHO African Region, identifies the factors that enable and constrain NHRS, and proposes the way forward.

Methods: To track progress in NHRS components and for comparison, a questionnaire that was used in NHRS surveys in 2003 and 2009 was administered in all 47 countries in the African Region. The national health research focal persons were responsible for completing the questionnaire, which had been hand-delivered to them by the WHO country office staff in charge of research, who also briefed them on the survey, went through the questionnaire for clarity, and sought their informed consent.

Results: All the 47 countries responded to the questionnaire, but some did not answer all questions. Of the countries responding to various questions 49 % (23/47) had a national health research policy; 47 % (22/47) had a health strategic plan; 40 % (19/47) had legislation governing research; 53 % (25/47) had a national health research priority agenda; 51 % (24/47) reported having a functional NHRS and a national health research management forum; 91 % (43/47) had an ethical review committee; 49 % (23/47) had hospitals with ethical review committees to review clinical research proposals; 51 % (24/47) had a scientific review committee; 62 % (29/47) had health institutions with scientific review committees; 83 % (39/47) had a national health research focal point; 51 % (24/47) had a health research programme; 55 % (26/47) had a national health or medical research institute or council; 93 % (41/44) had at least one university faculty of health sciences that conducted health research; and 33 % (15/46) had a knowledge translation platform. Forty-seven percent of countries reported having a budget line for research for health in the ministry of health budget. Between 2003 and 2014, the countries with a functional NHRS increased from 30 % to 51 %.

Conclusion: Compared with 2003 and 2009 surveys, our survey found many countries to have made progress in strengthening some of the functions of their NHRS. However, there remains an urgent need for countries without NHRS to establish them and for others to improve the functionality and efficiency of every NHRS component. This is necessary for the national governments to effectively execute their leadership and governance of NHRS and to create an enabling environment within which research for health can flourish.
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October 2015