What you need to know:
- Uganda has 4,000 private health facilities, 10,000 drug shops and pharmacies and 2,000 laboratory units, according to the UHF.
The government has launched a digital tool for monitoring the quality and cost of services in private health facilities in a move to promote public health.
The tool dubbed the Self-regulatory Quality Improvement System (SQIS) allows for assessing the availability and functionality of equipment, staffing and quality of services offered by the facilities.
While launching the tool yesterday, Dr Henry Mwebesa, the country’s director general of Health Services, said they intend to improve the quality of health services and not close underperforming facilities.
Mr Mwebesa said the assessment, using the tool, will be a requirement for licensing and or renewal for private hospitals, drugs, pharmacies and standalone clinics or laboratories.
“The SQIS is a self-assessment method where the private health facilities assess themselves and then they are logged into the system and we [the regulator] can see on an annual basis how each of them performed in different areas,” Dr Mwebesa said.
He added: “In areas where they didn’t do well, our role is to support them to improve or address the gaps. It is not a fault-finding tool where once we find the faults we close them. We want them to provide better quality services.”
Ms Grace Kiwanuka, the executive director of Uganda Healthcare Federation (UHF), the umbrella body for all private players in health care, said the tool helps the facilities assess themselves using 16 service elements.
“After the assessment, the system generates a quality improvement plan unique to the facility so that the activities for improvement are broken down into monthly interventions,” she said.
Ms Kiwanuka said the initial tool that was developed for the same purpose and launched in 2016 had loopholes.
“So, it was a contentious relationship with the regulator in that it was always a fault finding exercise where the regulator and councils come to facilities looking for issues and the facilities didn’t know what to do to prepare for inspection. This tool helps facilities put in place necessary quality steps,” she said.
Uganda has 4,000 private health facilities, 10,000 drug shops and pharmacies and 2,000 laboratory units, according to the UHF.
Prof Joel Okullo, the head of the Medical and Dental Practitioners Council, said health facilities should be honest and truthful in the self-assessment.
“We are tagging this tool to cost and quality. Many times malpractices occur and the medical council is investigating the facility, the only thing that will save the facility is accurate, quality and honest data,” he said.