Background

In 2013 the Uganda UK Health Alliance (UUKHA) was launched in Kampala, Uganda as a partnership of UK and Uganda-based organisations that shared a common interest in health developments in Uganda. Initially hosted by the University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust (UHSM), UUKHA was underpinned by a Memorandum of Understanding signed by 31 UK-based and 17 Uganda-based public and third-sector organisations and the Ugandan Ministry of Health.

At its inception, the Alliance had four core objectives

  • Support the Ugandan Government to implement its plans to increase and develop its health objectives and systems, and to contribute towards achieving the health-related Development Goals
  • Provide opportunities for learning and development for health workers and institutions in both Uganda and the UK
  • Provide a means of better coordinating UK organisations’ contribution to joint working in health, within internationally recognised standards of good practice
  • Encourage professional volunteering in both directions, in particular the development of standard models for different categories of volunteers

Since its launch UUKHA has organically grown. It now boasts over 80 UK-based member organisations and engagement with the healthcare systems in Uganda is burgeoning. Moreover whilst its initial objectives remain core to its business, engagement with the government, activity from its members and a developing relationship with the business sector have led to additional, exciting, positive but previously unpredicted activity.

This document sets out to refresh the UUKHA ‘story’ so that organisations, members, external stakeholders, potential future partners and government have a common understanding of the Alliance’s history, development, current activity and future direction.

The origins of UUKHA

In 2006, following the cessation of the 20-year civil war in Northern Uganda, the University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Trust under the guidance of the Tropical Health and Education Trust (THET), established a health partnership with Gulu University and Gulu Regional Referral Hospital. The GuluMan link aimed to assist the recovering post-conflict healthcare system through the deployment of short and long term healthcare professional volunteers. The link progressively strengthened and was viewed by many as a success deploying several hundred volunteers over its lifetime. With its success grew a progressive working relationship with the Ugandan Ministry of Health and was particularly favoured by the then Permanent Secretary.

Both the link leadership and the PS however recognised that the current aid activity in the North of the Country was ad hoc, did not always match the healthcare priorities of the government and was often so uncoordinated that duplication of effort was producing poor value for money for donors and other investments.

The GuluMan link continued to expand its influence at governmental level and in an attempt to overcome some of the problems of chaotic NGO activity and following a dialogue with Lord Nigel Crisp, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Global health, the UUKHA was established. Whilst there was significant and continued enthusiasm at Ugandan Governmental level and amongst UK partners for the concept of UUKHA, the operational model took several years to emerge. In 2015, Health Education England (HEE) through its newly formed Global Health Exchange, hosted by the University of Salford took over the hosting of the Alliance and with the support of THET, invested in a small ‘in-country’ secretariat. 2016/17 saw a rapid growth in the size, influence and activity of UUKHA and this has recently culminated in a series of high-profile health system transformational activities.