UGANDA – The Republic of Uganda is set to receive US$1.5 million in funding from the Government of Japan, through the United Nations Children’s Agency (UNICEF), to strengthen the country’s health information system using innovative digital health technologies
Uganda’s Ministry of Health will use the funds from UNICEF to implement a digitized health information microplanning system that will address challenges experienced in the delivery of immunization services and to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
In addition, part of UNICEF’s funding will be used to roll out a new health information system that will help reach unimmunized and under-immunized children with required vaccines along with those targeted for COVID-19 vaccination.
The funds will also be used to harness innovative digital solutions to improve healthcare delivery in the country such as assisting health workers to plan for vaccination supplies and supporting them to track COVID-19 vaccination.
UNICEF will work closely with the Ministry of Health, Uganda National Expanded Programme on Immunization, Health Information Management Division and Community Health Department to implement the project.
“Once the digital tracking system is implemented, the Ministry of Health and partners will be able to improve the quality of services and coverage to reach the unimmunized and under-immunized wherever they are through outreaches and improved planning,” the United Nations agency said.
The agency revealed that the latest funding opportunity will benefit 10 million under five children at national level and 21 million vaccinated children aged 12-18 years that will be vaccinated against COVID-19 while noting that the project targets are to be realized by the end 2024.
According to UNICEF, a recent “zero-dose” survey conducted in four urban districts revealed that there is still a significant number of children who are either not immunized or under-immunized in Uganda.
“Before a child celebrates their 1st birthday, they should have received BCG, Diphtheria-HepB-Hib, Hepatitis B, OPV, IPV, Rotavirus, Yellow Fever, Measles-Rubella, PCV vaccines. 10-year-old girls in school and community are required to receive the HPV vaccine,” the agency outlined.
With the financial support from the Japanese Government, UNICEF’s intervention will contribute to the improvement of estimation of “zero-dose” children and better identification of where such children are located at the lower community level within the districts.
“350 health workers and 60 Ministry of Health and Regional Referral Hospital officials will directly benefit from this innovation while 1.3 million under 5 children in the pilot districts of Kamuli, Kampala, Kamwenge, Lamwo, Mukono, Ntungamo and Wakiso, will benefit indirectly,” the agency disclosed.
UNICEF Representative to Uganda Dr. Munir Safieldin emphasized that collecting accurate data in a timely manner will improve the immunization coverage specifically through better estimates as to the quantity and location of the target population at the community level.
“With this funding from the Government of Japan, the Ugandan government with support from partners will be able to better manage routine and supplementary immunization, COVID-19 vaccination, vitamin A supplementation, deworming and community nutrition screening data for Uganda,” the agency said.
Furthermore, UNICEF Uganda Country Office highlighted key challenges impacting the way immunization services are delivered in the country such as the absence of an accurate or near-accurate source of the actual number of children who have defaulted on vaccine doses.
Other issues include complex data collection forms, lack of a simplified way to visualize stock status, defaulters, and children due for immunization in each month as well as difficulty in ensuring accurate monitoring of vaccine stocks, receipts and deliveries.
“Japan pledged to work on countermeasures against COVID-19, promotion of UHC, strengthening of health and medical systems, and building better health security. This cooperation is an embodiment of this pledge,” H.E. Fukuzawa Hidemoto, the Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of Uganda, reiterated.