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1.  Improving knowledge translation in Uganda: more needs to be done 
The Pan African Medical Journal  2014;17(Suppl 1):14.
Meeting the health-related Millennium Development Goals in Africa calls for better access to and higher utilisation of quality evidence. The mechanisms through which research evidence can effectively guide public health policy and implementation of health programmes are not fully understood. Challenges to the use of evidence to inform policy and practice include the lack of a common understanding of what constitutes evidence and limited insight on the effectiveness of different research uptake activities. Available Knowledge Translation (KT) models have mainly been developed in high income countries and may not be directly applicable in resource-limited settings. In this study we examine the uptake of evidence in public health policy making in Uganda.
We conducted a cross-sectional qualitative study consisting of in-depth interviews with 17 purposively-selected health policy makers and researchers. The study explored respondents’ perceptions of the role of evidence in public health policy development, their understanding of KT and their views on the appropriateness of different KT activities that are currently implemented in Uganda.
Although all respondents stated that evidence should inform health policies and programmes, they noted that this occurred infrequently. We noted a lack of conceptual clarity about KT and what precisely constitutes evidence. Respondents reported having been involved in different KT activities, including partnerships and platforms created for knowledge sharing between researchers and end users, but with very mixed results.
There is need for conceptual clarity on the notion of KT and an understanding of the most appropriate KT strategies in low-income settings.
PMCID: PMC3946259  PMID: 24624247
Knowledge translation; public health policy; low income countries; Uganda
2.  Indirect cost of maternal deaths in the WHO African Region in 2010 
An estimated 147,741 maternal deaths occurred in 2010 in 45 of the 47 countries in the African Region of the World Health Organization (WHO). The objective of this study was to estimate the indirect cost of maternal deaths in the Region to provide data for use in advocacy for increased domestic and external investment in multisectoral policy interventions to curb maternal mortality.
This study used the cost-of-illness method to estimate the indirect cost of maternal mortality, i.e. the loss in non-health gross domestic product (GDP) attributable to maternal deaths. Estimates on maternal mortality for 2010 from Trends in maternal mortality: 1990 to 2010 published by WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA and the World Bank were used in these calculations. Values for future non-health GDP lost were converted into their present values by applying a 3% discount rate. One-way sensitivity analysis at 5% and 10% discount rates assessed the impact on non-health GDP loss. Indirect cost analysis was undertaken for the countries, categorized under three income groups. Group 1 consisted of nine high and upper middle income countries, Group 2 of 12 lower middle income countries, and Group 3 of 26 low income countries. Estimates for Seychelles in Group 1 and South Sudan in Group 3 were not provided in the source used.
The 147,741 maternal deaths that occurred in 45 countries in the African Region in 2010 resulted in a total non-health GDP loss of Int$ 4.5 billion (PPP). About 24.5% of the loss was in Group 1 countries, 44.9% in Group 2 countries and 30.6% in Group 3 countries. This translated into losses in non-health GDP of Int$ 139,219, Int$ 35,440 and Int$ 16,397 per maternal death, respectively, for the three groups. Using discount rates of 5% and 10% reduced the total non-health GDP loss by 19.1% and 47.7%, respectively.
Maternal mortality is responsible for a noteworthy level of non-health GDP loss among the countries in the African Region. There is urgent need, therefore, to increase domestic and external investment to scale up coverage of existing cost-effective, multisectoral women’s health interventions to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-299) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4164751  PMID: 25174573
African Region; Maternal mortality; Indirect costs; Loss in non-health GDP
3.  Health financing in the African Region: 2000–2009 data analysis 
In order to raise African countries probability of achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals by 2015, there is need to increase and more efficiently use domestic and external funding to strengthen health systems infrastructure in order to ensure universal access to quality health care. The objective of this paper is to examine the changes that have occurred in African countries on health financing, taking into account the main sources of funding over the period 2000 to 2009.
Our analysis is based on the National Health Accounts (NHA) data for the 46 countries of the WHO African Region. The data were obtained from the WHO World Health Statistics Report 2012. Data for Zimbabwe was not available. The analysis was done using Excel software.
Between 2000 and 2009, number of countries spending less than 5% of their GDP on health decreased from 24 to 17; government spending on health as a percentage of total health expenditure increased in 31 countries and decreased in 13 countries; number of countries allocating at least 15% of national budgets on health increased from 2 to 4; number of countries partially financing health through social security increased from 19 to 21; number of countries where private spending was 50% and above of total health expenditure decreased from 29 (64%) to 23 (51%); over 70% of private expenditure on health came from household out-of-pocket payments (OOPS) in 32 (71%) countries and in 27 (60%) countries; number of countries with private prepaid plans increased from 29 to 31; number of countries financing more than 20% of their total health expenditure from external sources increased from 14 to 19; number of countries achieving the Commission for Macroeconomics and Health recommendation of spending at least US$34 per person per year increased from 11 to 29; number of countries achieving the International Taskforce on Innovative Financing recommendation of spending at least US$44 per person per year increased from 11 to 24; average per capita total expenditure on health increased from US$35 to US$82; and average per capita government expenditure on health grew from US$ 15 to US$ 41.
Whilst the African Region (AFR) average government expenditure on health as a per cent of THE increased by 5.4 per cent, the average private health expenditure decreased by the same percentage between 2000 and 2009. The regional average OOPS as a per cent of private expenditure on health increased by 4.9 per cent. The average external resources for health as a percentage of THE increased by 3.7 per cent. Even though on average the quantity of health funds have increased, we cannot judge from the current study the extent to which financial risk protection, equity and efficiency has progressed or regressed.
In 2009 OOPS made up over 20% of total expenditure on health in 34 countries. Evidence shows that where OOPS as a percentage of total health expenditure is less than 20%, the risk of catastrophic expenditure is negligible. Therefore, there is urgent need for countries to develop health policies that address inequities and health financing models that optimize the use of health resources and strengthen health infrastructure. Increased coverage of prepaid health-financing mechanisms would reduce over-reliance on potentially catastrophic and impoverishing out-of-pocket payments.
PMCID: PMC3607963  PMID: 23497637
4.  Moving from ideas to action - developing health financing systems towards universal coverage in Africa 
Accelerating progress towards universal coverage in African countries calls for concrete actions that reinforce social health protection through establishment of sustainable health financing mechanisms. In order to explore possible pathways for moving past the existing obstacles, panel discussions were organized on health financing bringing together Ministers of health and Ministers of finance with the objective of creating a discussion space where the different perspectives on key issues and needed actions could meet. This article presents a synthesis of panel discussions focusing on the identified challenges and the possible solutions. The overview of this paper is based on the objectives and proceedings of the panel discussions and relies on the observation and study of the interaction between the panelists and on the discourse used.
The discussion highlighted that a large proportion of the African population has no access to needed health services with significant reliance on direct out of pocket payments. There are multiple obstacles in making prepayment and pooling mechanisms operational. The relatively strong political commitment to health has not always translated into more public spending for health. Donor investment in health in low income countries still falls below commitments. There is need to explore innovative domestic revenue collection mechanisms. Although inadequate funding for health is a fundamental problem, inefficient use of resources is of great concern. There is need to generate robust evidence focusing on issues of importance to ministry of finance. The current unsatisfactory state of health financing was mainly attributed to lack of clear vision; evidence based plans and costed strategies.
Based on the analysis of discussion made, there are points of convergence and divergence in the discourse and positions of the two ministries. The current blockage points holding back budget allocations for health can be solved with a more evidence based approach and dialogue based on a clear vision and costed strategic plan articulated by the ministry of health. Improving health in Africa is a driver for long-term economic growth and development and this is the reason why the ministries of health and finance will need to find common ground on how to create policy coherence and how to articulate their respective objectives.
PMCID: PMC3558372  PMID: 23137065
Health financing; Ministry of health; Ministry of finance; Africa; Panel discussion
5.  Impact of malaria morbidity on gross domestic product in Uganda 
The burden of malaria is a key challenge to both human and economic development in malaria endemic countries. The impact of malaria can be categorized from three dimensions, namely: health, social and economic. The objective of this study was to estimate the impact of malaria morbidity on gross domestic product (GDP) of Uganda.
The impact of malaria morbidity on GDP of Uganda was estimated using double-log econometric model. The 1997-2003 time series macro-data used in the analysis were for 28 quarters, i.e. 7 years times 4 quarters per year. It was obtained from national and international secondary sources.
The slope coefficient for Malaria Index (M) was -0.00767; which indicates that when malaria morbidity increases by one unit, while holding all other explanatory variables constant, per capita GDP decreases by US$0.00767 per year. In 2003 Uganda lost US$ 49,825,003 of GDP due to malaria morbidity. Dividing the total loss of US$49.8 million by a population of 25,827,000 yields a loss in GDP of US$1.93 per person in Uganda in 2003.
Malaria morbidity results in a substantive loss in GDP of Uganda. The high burden of malaria leads to decreased long-term economic growth, and works against poverty eradication efforts and socioeconomic development of the country.
PMCID: PMC3402997  PMID: 22439685
6.  Research, evidence and policymaking: the perspectives of policy actors on improving uptake of evidence in health policy development and implementation in Uganda 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:109.
Use of evidence in health policymaking plays an important role, especially in resource-constrained settings where informed decisions on resource allocation are paramount. Several knowledge translation (KT) models have been developed, but few have been applied to health policymaking in low income countries. If KT models are expected to explain evidence uptake and implementation, or lack of it, they must be contextualized and take into account the specificity of low income countries for example, the strong influence of donors. The main objective of this research is to elaborate a Middle Range Theory (MRT) of KT in Uganda that can also serve as a reference for other low- and middle income countries.
This two-step study employed qualitative approaches to examine the principal barriers and facilitating factors to KT. Step 1 involved a literature review and identification of common themes. The results informed the development of the initial MRT, which details the facilitating factors and barriers to KT at the different stages of research and policy development. In Step 2, these were further refined through key informant interviews with policymakers and researchers in Uganda. Deductive content and thematic analysis was carried out to assess the degree of convergence with the elements of the initial MRT and to identify other emerging issues.
Review of the literature revealed that the most common emerging facilitating factors could be grouped under institutional strengthening for KT, research characteristics, dissemination, partnerships and political context. The analysis of interviews, however, showed that policymakers and researchers ranked institutional strengthening for KT, research characteristics and partnerships as the most important. New factors emphasized by respondents were the use of mainstreamed structures within MoH to coordinate and disseminate research, the separation of roles between researchers and policymakers, and the role of the community and civil society in KT.
This study refined an initial MRT on KT in policymaking in the health sector in Uganda that was based on a literature review. It provides a framework that can be used in empirical research of the process of KT on specific policy issues.
PMCID: PMC3305540  PMID: 22316003
Research; Policy; Practice; Implementation gap; Uganda; Low income countries
7.  Health financing reform in Uganda: How equitable is the proposed National Health Insurance scheme? 
Uganda is proposing introduction of the National Health Insurance scheme (NHIS) in a phased manner with the view to obtaining additional funding for the health sector and promoting financial risk protection. In this paper, we have assessed the proposed NHIS from an equity perspective, exploring the extent to which NHIS would improve existing disparities in the health sector.
We reviewed the proposed design and other relevant documents that enhanced our understanding of contextual issues. We used the Kutzin and fair financing frameworks to critically assess the impact of NHIS on overall equity in financing in Uganda.
The introduction of NHIS is being proposed against the backdrop of inequalities in the distribution of health system inputs between rural and urban areas, different levels of care and geographic areas. In this assessment, we find that gradual implementation of NHIS will result in low coverage initially, which might pose a challenge for effective management of the scheme. The process for accreditation of service providers during the first phase is not explicit on how it will ensure that a two-tier service provision arrangement does not emerge to cater for different types of patients. If the proposed fee-for-service mechanism of reimbursing providers is pursued, utilisation patterns will determine how resources are allocated. This implies that equity in resource allocation will be determined by the distribution of accredited providers, and checks put in place to prohibit frivolous use. The current design does not explicitly mention how these two issues will be tackled. Lastly, there is no clarity on how the NHIS will fit into, and integrate within existing financing mechanisms.
Under the current NHIS design, the initial low coverage in the first years will inhibit optimal achievement of the important equity characteristics of pooling, cross-subsidisation and financial protection. Depending on the distribution of accredited providers and utilisation patterns, the NHIS could worsen existing disparities in access to services, given the fee-for-service reimbursement mechanisms currently proposed. Lastly, if equity in financing and resource allocation are not explicit objectives of the NHIS, it might inadvertently worsen the existing disparities in service provision.
PMCID: PMC2967551  PMID: 20942899

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