Feb. 12, 2021

UCalgary global partnership helps Ugandan district rank No. 1 in health-care performance

Award demonstrates how our international partnerships empower change

A district in Uganda is celebrating new heights of success today, thanks to its hard work and a partnership with the University of Calgary.

Bushenyi District in southwest Uganda has been recognized as the 2019-2020 best-performing district in health care among 134 districts in the east African nation.

“It was great to hear Bushenyi was recognized! This is the first time in 15 years the district has been awarded this honour. The Ministry of Health monitors about 26 health service delivery indicators every year to determine the district rankings,” says Bushenyi’s district health officer, Dr. Edward Mwesigye.

Goals of MamaToto Intervention

The Cumming School of Medicine’s Indigenous, Local and Global Health (ILGH) Office worked with Bushenyi district, Mbarara University of Science and Technology and the Canadian Paediatric Society between 2012 and 2015 under the global health partnership Healthy Child Uganda (HCU). The project was called the MamaToto Intervention. One of its main goals was to engage Village Health Teams and to strengthen Bushenyi’s health centres’ provision of quality pre- and postnatal care, safe deliveries and outreach services. Ultimately, they were looking to create a model district to inspire other districts to make improvements to maternal and child health care.

The work to build the Village Health Teams and strengthen health centres through equipment procurement and staff training was largely led by the district with support from MamaToto’s partners. Health workers were trained in courses including Helping Babies Breathe, Nutrition, and Emergency Obstetrics Care. Village Health Team members were provided training in maternal and child health including identifying sick children and pregnancy danger signs.

Improving life for women and children

This 2020 national award to Bushenyi as top district in health care in the country is evidence that the HCU partnership was successful in improving the health of women and children in the district and in creating a sustainable health-care model,” says Heather MacIntosh, director, global health projects, ILGH Office.

UCalgary’s Global Engagement Plan outlines a commitment to foster meaningful connection with the world around us through collaborative partnerships. The ILGH office is again working with the Bushenyi district and MUST on a three-year (2020-2023) sexual and reproductive health and rights initiative: Healthy Adolescents and Young People in Uganda (HAY!).

“The strong VHT network built by Bushenyi district, the groundwork laid through MamaToto to strengthen health centres, and the longstanding respectful partnership with MUST and Bushenyi have created a solid foundation for HAY! We are really excited to continue working with these partners and for the possibilities of this initiative,” says MacIntosh.

Share knowledge and expertise globally

Partnerships and opportunities to work abroad enable the sharing of knowledge and expertise so that learning and actions can strengthen health systems and address gaps in our partners’ and our own communities. UCalgary staff, students and faculty who have participated in global health initiatives have returned with a better understanding of what a healthy partnership requires and an improved ability to communicate across cultures

Recognizing the importance of ethical, co-operative and respectful international partnerships in medical research and education, the Cumming School of Medicine’s Indigenous, Local and Global Health (ILGH) Office is marking International Development Week Feb. 7 to 13. Learn more about ILGH’s Global Health initiatives and partnerships. Learn more about UCalgary’s celebration of International Development Week.