Hon. Dr. Christine Ondoa has served as Uganda’s Minister of Health since May 2011. She talks about the challenges of developing the country’s healthcare sector and the progress which has been made by the Ministry of Health over the past year.
European Times: What are your main goals for Uganda’s healthcare sector?
Dr. Christine Ondoa: My chief aim is for Uganda to achieve the Millennium Health Development goals, particularly continuing to reduce our maternal and infant mortality rates, improving our health infrastructure, and increasing our healthcare human resources. Uganda is still ranked very low in the quality of its medical care, healthcare funding and healthcare-services efficiency compared to other East African countries, but we have to look at how far the country has come in recent years. We are definitely making progress. I am trying to re-focus this ministry and I believe we are now on the right track. We have been receiving complementary financial support from many countries in Europe as well as the US, and from international organisations like the Global Alliance for Vaccine Initiative. It is a very positive sign that the Ministry of Health and the government as a whole have been very open and transparent about the mistakes made in the past. Now it is time to put these mistakes behind us and move forward.
“It is time for the world to recognise that many positive changes have been made in Uganda, and that the Ministry of Health is moving in the right direction.”
European Times: What are some recent accomplishments in the healthcare sector that you are especially proud of?
Dr. Christine Ondoa: One of our achievements has been to offer young girls the HPV vaccine to prevent cervical cancer. We have also seen major improvements in our child-mortality and maternal-mortality rates; now Uganda has lower child-mortality and maternal-mortality rates than Kenya and Rwanda. We have upgraded our regional referral hospital infrastructure, improved the Uganda Heart Institute and the Uganda Cancer Institute, and enhanced the procurement and distribution of essential medicines and health supplies through our national medical stores.
European Times: Are you open to foreign partnerships and investment in the healthcare sector?
Dr. Christine Ondoa: Our Public-Private Partnership for Health (PPPH) Policy is currently being finalised, and we will use this to advance our improvements in health-services delivery. We want to strengthen Uganda’s health system as a whole not only by forming new partnerships with foreign investors and institutions, but also by building on the partnerships we already have in the healthcare sector, because I believe they have not yet reached their full potential. It is time for the world to recognise that many positive changes have been made in Uganda, and that the Ministry of Health is moving in the right direction.