Uganda Minister of Health honours WSSCC with visit to Secretariat in Geneva

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WSSCC was honoured this week by the visit to its offices of a delegation led by Hon. Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye, Minister of Health, Republic of Uganda.

WSSCC Executive Director Chris Williams received the delegation, which is in Geneva for the 64th World Health Assembly.

The meeting focused on a wide range of issues related to sanitation and health in Uganda, and in particular on the ongoing implementation of the Uganda Sanitation Fund (USF).

Mrs. Julian Kyomuhangi, GSF Programme Manager and Assistant Commissioner, Environmental Health, Ministry of Health, Uganda, arranged the visit.

The USF programme is led by the government and is known and the Environmental Health Division in the Ministry of Health is the Executing Agency (EA) and the 30 District Local Governments are implementing activities on the ground, some in partnership with NGOs to complement activities. A sub-group of the National Sanitation Working Group is the USF Programme Coordinating Mechanism.

The programme targets approximately 5.6 million people in over 9,000 villages, to live in open-defecation free (ODF) environments, and to adopt good hygienic practices. The programme contributes to the National Development Plan objective of increasing access to quality social services and is built on Uganda’s Improved Sanitation and Hygiene (ISH) strategy.

The USF Programme is a catalyst to demonstrate that even with limited resources for sanitation and hygiene promotion, immense savings are made by the Government in addressing the burden of sanitation and hygiene related diseases.

Cumulative end-of-year result delivery in 2014 against GSF core indicators were over 1.4 million people living in ODF environments; more than 878,000 people with access to improved or hygienic toilets (about 88 percent of the programme target) and close to 1.4 million people with handwashing facilities (about 31 percent of the programme target).

Some 4,900 communities have been triggered since the programme started, of which more than 2,360 have been declared ODF. It is worth noting that although these achievements (and targets) are attributed to the programme as a whole, they relate wholly to the original 15 programme districts.

The 15 expansion districts have been undertaking capacity development activities, and programme advocacy activities and are yet to contribute to the monitored result indicators.

Whereas the GSF programmes in most other countries are implemented through civil society organizations, a unique feature of the USF Programme is its implementation through government administrative structures with the Ministry of Health as the EA, and the District Local Governments as the Sub-grantees. Working through the government system has its challenges; however, the key strength is the positioning within the Ministry of Health (at EA level) and District Local Governments (at Sub-grantee level) and the ability to implement through existing structures

The implementation through the government structures comes with a number of additional values that include:

  • Contribution to programme sustainability with the anticipation that structures and systems will continue to be in place long after the GSF support ceases;
  • Building capacity of civil servants working in environmental health to plan, manage, implement and monitor sanitation and hygiene promotion. Among others, skills are being built in the application of CLTS; and 
  • The programme focus goes beyond attaining an ODF environment and the USF is embedded in the government-led campaign to address wider environmental home improvement such as hygienic kitchens, animal pens, rubbish pits, drying racks and clothes lines, clean homes and compounds and safe water supply.

Participants in the meeting at WSSCC included:

  1. Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye, Hon. Minister of Health – Head of delegation WHA, Uganda
  2. Dr. Chris Williams, Executive Director, WSSCC, Geneva
  3. Dr. Jane Aceng, Director General Health Services, MoH, Uganda 
  4. Mr. Rogers Enyaku, Assistant Commissioner, Finance & Budget, MoH, Uganda.
  5. Dr. Joseph Mayanja, ACHS/Programme Manager, UNEPI, Uganda
  6. Mr. David Troubad, Advocacy and Communications Programme Manager, WSSCC, Geneva
  7. Ms Julian Kyomuhangi, ACHS, Programme Manager – USF, Uganda 
  8. Dr. Timothy Musila, PMO, Coordinator – World Health Assembly, Uganda
  9. Ms Virginia Kamowa, Senior Programme Officer, Global Advocacy, WSSCC, Geneva
  10. Dr. Moses Arinaitwe, Technical Assistant to the Minister of Health, Uganda