About the call
The Africa Hub, Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH) wishes to support not only capacity building for graduate students in health systems research, but also how their research findings could be shared with policy makers and other stakeholders within the study areas. To facilitate this, Africa Hub wishes to support three post-graduate students to disseminate findings from their short studies, within districts where the studies were undertaken. Note that only studies answering health systems research questions will be supported.
When the Future Health Systems team at the Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH) approached Uganda's Ministry of Health, with an idea of a symposium as part of the activities to commemorate the safe motherhood month held every year in October, it was not clear what to expect.
But bingo, the idea was taken on board, seeing the United Nations Population Fund, the World Health Organisation, and Marie Stopes Uganda become co sponsors with MakSPH for the event now being planned to be held annually.
Organised under the theme "Teenage Pregnancy: An Obstacle to Maternal Health, Let's Stop It Now," the 2013 inaugural symposium held on November 5 drew the attention of teenage mothers, the academia, policy makers, religious and cultural leaders, legal practitioners, and the media among other stakeholders.
In a speech read for him at the symposium, Uganda's State Minister for Health Dr Elioda Tumwesigye said there was urgent need for investment in the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people in order to address the underlying factors that give rise to the high rate of teenage pregnancies.
"Although some of the laws and policies in Uganda address this issue of teenage pregnancy some of our laws still have loop holes which promote teenage pregnancy," said Dr Tumwesigye. "Similarly although the Uganda Ministry of health supports the provision of adolescent friendly services, its provision has been met with some challenges."
With support from the Future Health Systems (FHS) consortium, seven schools of public health (SPHs) in East and Central Africa have embarked on a five-year project to strengthen their capacity to undertake high quality, policy relevant health systems research (HSR).
During a three-day regional meeting in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, the schools from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, D. R. Congo, and Ethiopia presented findings from capacity self-assessments, from which seven thematic areas of collaboration emerged.
Among the seven thematic areas that emerged from the schools' self-assessments include: funding availability and resource mobilization, faculty development for HSR, database and library resources for HSR and support for and coordination of HSR activities. Others are setting national HSR priorities, knowledge translation and communication, and developing HSR curricula.
The schools are under the umbrella of the Higher Education Alliance for Leadership through Health (HEALTH Alliance). In addition to the Africa Hub, the Alliance also coordinates other programs, like the One Health initiative and also supports the deans of the SPHs to convene, discuss, and resolve common management issues.
Speaking of the self-assessment findings, the HEALTH Alliance Director Prof. William Bazeyo said the information generated was vital for HSR planning in the respective countries, yet governments did not have it.