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1.  Exploring new health markets: experiences from informal providers of transport for maternal health services in Eastern Uganda 
Background
Although a number of intermediate transport initiatives have been used in some developing countries, available evidence reveals a dearth of local knowledge on the effect of these rural informal transport mechanisms on access to maternal health care services, the cost of implementing such schemes and their scalability. This paper, attempts to provide insights into the functioning of the informal transport markets in facilitating access to maternal health care. It also demonstrates the role that higher institutions of learning can play in designing projects that can increase the utilization of maternal health services.
Objectives
To explore the use of intermediate transport mechanisms to improve access to maternal health services, with emphasis on the benefits and unintended consequences of the transport scheme, as well as challenges in the implementation of the scheme.
Methods
This paper is based on the pilot phase to inform a quasi experimental study aimed at increasing access to maternal health services using demand and supply side incentives. The data collection for this paper included qualitative and quantitative methods that included focus group interviews, review of project documents and facility level data.
Results
There was a marked increase in attendance of antenatal, and delivery care services, with the contracted transporters playing a leading role in mobilizing mothers to attend services. The project also had economic spill-over effects to the transport providers, their families and community generally. However, some challenges were faced including difficulty in setting prices for paying transporters, and poor enforcement of existing traffic regulations.
Conclusions and implications
The findings indicate that locally existing resources such as motorcycle riders, also known as “boda boda” can be used innovatively to reduce challenges caused by geographical inaccessibility and a poor transport network with resultant increases in the utilization of maternal health services. However, care must be taken to mobilize the resources needed and to ensure that there is enforcement of laws that will ensure the safety of clients and the transport providers themselves.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-11-S1-S10
PMCID: PMC3059469  PMID: 21410997
2.  Increasing access to institutional deliveries using demand and supply side incentives: early results from a quasi-experimental study 
Background
Geographical inaccessibility, lack of transport, and financial burdens are some of the demand side constraints to maternal health services in Uganda, while supply side problems include poor quality services related to unmotivated health workers and inadequate supplies. Most public health interventions in Uganda have addressed only selected supply side issues, and universities have focused their efforts on providing maternal services at tertiary hospitals. To demonstrate how reforms at Makerere University College of Health Sciences (MakCHS) can lead to making systemic changes that can improve maternal health services, a demand and supply side strategy was developed by working with local communities and national stakeholders.
Methods
This quasi-experimental trial is conducted in two districts in Eastern Uganda. The supply side component includes health worker refresher training and additions of minimal drugs and supplies, whereas the demand side component involves vouchers given to pregnant women for motorcycle transport and the payment to service providers for antenatal, delivery, and postnatal care. The trial is ongoing, but early analysis from routine health information systems on the number of services used is presented.
Results
Motorcyclists in the community organized themselves to accept vouchers in exchange for transport for antenatal care, deliveries and postnatal care, and have become actively involved in ensuring that women obtain care. Increases in antenatal, delivery, and postnatal care were demonstrated, with the number of safe deliveries in the intervention area immediately jumping from <200 deliveries/month to over 500 deliveries/month in the intervention arm. Voucher revenues have been used to obtain needed supplies to improve quality and to pay health workers, ensuring their availability at a time when workloads are increasing.
Conclusions
Transport and service vouchers appear to be a viable strategy for rapidly increasing maternal care. MakCHS can design strategies together with stakeholders using a learning-by-doing approach to take advantage of community resources.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-11-S1-S11
PMCID: PMC3059470  PMID: 21410998
3.  Building partnerships towards strengthening Makerere University College of Health Sciences: a stakeholder and sustainability analysis 
Background
Partnerships and networking are important for an institution of higher learning like Makerere University College of Health Sciences (MakCHS) to be competitive and sustainable.
Methods
A stakeholder and sustainability analysis of 25 key informant interviews was conducted among past, current and potential stakeholders of MakCHS to obtain their perspectives and contributions to sustainability of the College in its role to improve health outcomes.
Results
The College has multiple internal and external stakeholders. Stakeholders from Uganda wanted the College to use its enormous academic capacity to fulfil its vision, take initiative, and be innovative in conducting more research and training relevant to the country’s health needs. Many stakeholders felt that the initiative for collaboration currently came more from the stakeholders than the College. External stakeholders felt that MakCHS was insufficiently marketing itself and not directly engaging the private sector or Parliament. Stakeholders also identified the opportunity for MakCHS to embrace information technology in research, learning and training, and many also wanted MakCHS to start leadership and management training programmes in health systems. The need for MakCHS to be more vigorous in training to enhance professionalism and ethical conduct was also identified.
Discussion
As a constituent of a public university, MakCHS has relied on public funding, which has been inadequate to fulfill its mission. Broader networking, marketing to mobilize resources, and providing strong leadership and management support to inspire confidence among its current and potential stakeholders will be essential to MakCHS’ further growth. MakCHS’ relevance is hinged on generating research knowledge for solving the country’s contemporary health problems and starting relevant programs and embracing technologies. It should share new knowledge widely through publications and other forms of dissemination. Whether institutional leadership is best in the hands of academicians or professional managers is a debatable matter.
Conclusions
This study points towards the need for MakCHS and other African public universities to build a broad network of partnerships to strengthen their operations, relevance, and sustainability. Conducting stakeholder and sustainability analyses are instructive toward this end, and have provided information and perspectives on how to make long-range informed choices for success.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-11-S1-S14
PMCID: PMC3059473  PMID: 21411001

Results 1-3 (3)