Four innovations identified by external reviewers as the best, received awards from the Makerere University School of Public Health Social Innovation in Health Initiative –SIHI Uganda project.
This was during the 3rd national stakeholders workshop held on March 17, 2021 at Golf Course Hotel, Kampala to reward and recognize the best community-based health solutions in Uganda.
The workshop aimed at strengthening collaboration with stakeholders in advancement of social innovation in health. It also gave an opportunity for the innovators to showcase their social innovations that have enabled the delivery of more inclusive, effective and affordable health services to Ugandans. The even brought together officials from Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, Ministry of Health, Makerere University and members of the public.
The winners of the 2020 social innovations for solutions that improved access and quality of health care were; Ishaka Health Plan Project (Community based health insurance scheme) that facilitates access to quality and affordable healthcare services to communities in Bushenyi district, My Pregnancy Handbook project, a user-friendly portable short handbook prepared to deliver authentic health information concerning pregnancy to pregnant mothers, midwives, and the general population, SEEK-GSP project, a project aimed at narrowing the treatment gap for depression among people living with HIV using group support psychotherapy delivered by community health workers and the Community Health Insurance, an initiative by the Uganda Protestant Medical Bureau.
Also awarded were students from the School of Public Health for their innovations. They are; Mr. Filimin Niyongabo who showcased the Student’s HIV/AIDs Awareness campaign (SHIVA), and Mathias Amperiize spearheading Youth-led cancer and diabetes awareness campaign (YCADAC).
Speaking at the ceremony, Dr. Rhoda Wanyenze, Professor, and Dean MakSPH hailed the innovators for creativity. She said she was very passionate about social innovations in health and hopped that the Uganda hub of SIHI global can be grown further to enable communities to come with their solutions.
“I also look for the opportunity where we can transform the way we teach. We need to transform the way we teach to enable students to be problem solvers. Are we teaching people to solve problems? Are we teaching them to only see problems or to solve problems? We need to actually empower our students to be able to feel that they have the capacity to innovate and solve problems,” Professor Rhoda Wanyenze.
Professor Damalie Nakanjako, the Principal College of Health Sciences represented the Vice-Chancellor Professor Barnabas Nawangwe. She hailed the Uganda hub of SIHI global led by Dr. Phyllis Awor for the good network of identifying and supporting nurture innovations.
“As Makerere University, we want to appreciate Government of Uganda for the big trust that you have put in research and innovation. I think this is an area where we have received support through the Research and Innovations Fund. It has made a difference to impact society. It is our mandate to translate research into policy to benefit the citizens of Uganda. This is very key towards our attainment of Sustainable Development Goals. With support from government, Makerere University has renewed her mandate on intellectual property and working with industry to promote innovators. Our Intellectual Property Office is ready to invest and support innovators to develop further,” said Professor Nakanjako.
Dr. Olaro Charles, Director Clinical Services at Ministry of Health said the ministry looks forward to more partnerships and that they we are ready to support such innovations that help improve the quality of health of Ugandans.
Dr. Maxwell Otim Onapa, the Director of Science, Research and Innovation at Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation said his Ministry certainly is very positioned to work with SIHI Uganda hub because ideally, these social innovations in health bring a whole different perspective hence a need to integrate such innovations.
"Sometimes we focus too much on issues related to the business you look at the big picture and yet there very low hanging fruits that require low input but with immense impact. I believe this is one of them," said Dr. Maxwell Otim.
He adds that his ministry is already working with Ministry of Health to establish an innovation cluster program, particularly in health. He advances that the Health Information Innovation and Research program under the health ministry is a very strategic one that can enable to support these initiatives.
“We also pick interest in areas where there is a lot of intellectual input. And we shall support in the area of intellectual property," Dr. Otim.
During the workshop, the SIHI Uganda Hub Director, Dr. Phyllis Awor briefed the participants on SIHI and SIHI Uganda hub activities. She emphasized the need for supporting social innovations to ensure equitable and affordable health services. Since its establishment in 2017, more than 12 innovations have been recognized.
Dr. Awor further noted that the identified innovations could be translated into policy and scaled to improve the well-being of Ugandans.
SIHI Uganda is part of a global collaboration of partners passionate about advancing community-based health solutions. The SIHI network is supported by TDR, the special programme for research and training in tropical disease, co-sponsored by UNDP, UNICEF, the World Bank and WHO. TDR receives core funding from SIDA, the Swedish International Development Agency, used to support SIHI.