Respect health workers' rights for effective healthcare - WHO boss

Dr Charles Olaro and Dr Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam participate in a physical exercise during World Health Day celebrations held at WHO offices in Kampala on April 14, 2024. PHOTO | JANE NAFULA

What you need to know:

  • Dr Tegegn urged everyone to "commit to supporting our health workers and contribute to our collective health."

The World Health Organization (WHO) representative in Uganda, Dr Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam, emphasized the importance of respecting health workers' rights to ensure effective healthcare delivery.

"The right of health workers to provide health without being threatened war or other factors," Dr Tegegn said.

"The right of health workers to provide health services without threats from violence or other factors is crucial," Dr Tegegn said during the 76th World Health Day celebrations held at the WHO offices in Kampala on Sunday.

The theme for this year's celebration was "Your Health, Your Right." The event included a public sports walk, mass screening for both communicable and non-communicable diseases (NCDs), a blood donation drive, and physical exercise sessions.

Dr Tegegn urged everyone to "commit to supporting our health workers and contribute to our collective health."

He highlighted that implementing existing public health policies and guidelines, improving resource efficiency, and promoting community empowerment and participation would significantly accelerate Uganda's progress towards achieving universal health coverage.

Currently, Uganda's Universal Health Coverage (UHC) sits at 53%, far below the recommended target of 63% of the population having access to timely, quality healthcare.

Dr Tegegn acknowledged the socio-economic challenges hindering equal access to comprehensive health services in Uganda, with over half the population lacking full coverage.

He reassured the audience that WHO would continue collaborating with partners to mobilize financial and technical resources to support Uganda's healthcare system improvements and achieve UHC goals.

The Director for Curative Services at the Ministry of Health, Dr Charles Olaro, encouraged Ugandans to utilize available medical interventions to reduce the country's disease burden.

Dr Olaro specifically addressed vaccine hesitancy, highlighting its role in exposing Ugandans to preventable diseases like cervical cancer.

"Cervical cancer represents 37 percent of the 7000 new cancer cases recorded at Uganda Cancer Institute. This cancer can be prevented if women and girls are vaccinated with Human Papilloma vaccine," he said.

“We have also had several outbreaks of yellow fever in some districts in the North, West Nile and Kampala Metropolitan but some people are still reluctant to go for vaccination," he added.

Dr Olaro emphasized that while healthcare is a right, it's also an individual's responsibility to seek medical attention and adopt healthy lifestyles for better well-being.

Dr Daniel Kyabayinze, the Director of Public Health at the Ministry of Health, reiterated that health is both a right and a responsibility for every Ugandan to enjoy and achieve the best possible health status.