AGHA Media Release – More about my NGO’s work

8 01 2010

Below is the text of the first media release we are sending out since I’ve been here.  I’ve worked on a communications plan for AGHA that includes a proactive media relations strategy, media monitoring, expert positioning and op-eds/letters-to-the editor.  The systems seem to be working but there is only so much you can control.  Buying both major papers each day is expensive.  Sometimes we get both, other times just one which makes media monitoring a challenge.  Also, internet problems are a regular part of life so getting electronic copies of stories and emailing daily media clips is a challenge.  There is no clipping service for TV and radio so the focus right now is just to capture what is being written in the two major newspapers.  As part of the proactive media strategy, we determined a message calendar for the year and are trying to send at least one release out a month.  As you’ll see January’s release is a more general message with the hook of New Year’s resolutions.  Keep in mind Ugandan English and grammar is different.  Still, I thought sharing this release may be helpful in learning more about the NGO’s work.

Rwanda pictures and stories are coming – hopefully over the weekend!

In the meantime, check this out and let me know what you think and if you have other interesting media ideas…

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

OUR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION:
IMPROVE HEALTH CARE AND FIGHT CORRUPTION IN UGANDA
Need for transparency in health care funding and better resources for health care workers top the list


Kampala, UGANDA
– As the New Year arrives and resolutions are on the mind, AGHA believes Uganda needs to set its own resolutions to improve health care in our country.  “Health care continues to be hindered by inadequate financing, corruption, a shortage of healthcare workers, drug stock outs, corruption and mismanagement in the distribution of funds for health care, said Sandra Kiapi, Executive Director of AGHA. “These are serious problems that need to be addressed in order to improve health care for Ugandans and to be able to make a difference in the treatment of important health issues such as HIV/AIDS.”

AGHA is asking Uganda to focus on the following New Year’s resolutions:

  • Meet Uganda’s promise as a signatory to the Abuja declaration to allocate 15% of the national budget to the health sector.

In 2001, all African states gathered in Abuja, Nigeria and agreed to allocate 15% of their national budgets to the health sector. Uganda has not yet made an effort to meet its promise. The effect of this unmet promise has made the health sector suffer and contributes to crippling problems such as the chronic drug stock outs and brain drain of health care workers.

  • Commit to transparency and accountability in health care funding.

The rampant mismanagement of critical funds for health care allocated by the Global Fund has longstanding repercussions. Corruption is not only affecting the quality of care available for Ugandans but also is making it difficult for our country to secure health care funding from the international community. AGHA has developed a tool to monitor government promises and realities on health care spending by gathering data in the following areas: planning and financial accountability; timeliness in release of funds; CSO meaningful participation; access to information and general management.  AGHA needs cooperation from Government and local districts to gather this data and needs CSOs to act upon the results.

  • Address issues related to resources for health care workers; help recruit and retain quality people to fill vacant posts throughout the country, especially in rural areas.

The Annual Health Sector Performance Report for FY 2008/2009 revealed that 56% of approved health care positions were filled; however, only 15% of districts had filled the minimum agreed positions, which reflects the inequitable distribution of health workers, particularly in the rural, hard-to-reach areas.  As the majority of Ugandans live in the rural regions of the country, these areas must be prioritized.  While AGHA commends the Government on its development of a Motivation and Retention Strategy that addresses the issue of health infrastructure, there needs to be a stronger commitment to finance and implement this plan. Uganda will never achieve basic health care services without quality health care workers to provide those services.

  • Reduce stigmatization and discrimination of patients with HIV/AIDS.

Stigmatization of certain illnesses in Uganda like HIV/AIDS is a significant barrier in the realization of human rights, particularly the right to health.  More training is needed to educate both health workers and the public about the reality of risks involved in treating patients with HIV/AIDS.  This sensitization will help save lives as more people will feel comfortable being tested and seeking care once they have received a positive notification of having HIV/AIDS.

“By adopting these New Year’s resolutions for health care in Uganda and making real progress, we will improve health care services for all Ugandans,” said Kiapi.  “What better thing to focus on for the new year than improvement in this crucial area.”

ABOUT AGHA UGANDA

The Action Group for Health, Human Rights and HIV/AIDS (AGHA) is an indigenous Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) founded in July 2003 to mobilize health professionals and health consumers to address issues of human rights as they relate to health, with a specific focus on HIV/AIDS. AGHA brings together doctors, nurses and other professionals with NGOs interested in promoting human rights in the health sector to create local and national networks dedicated to health advocacy.

AGHA has four primary programs:

Health rights leadership campaign: training health workers to be human rights advocates; health workforce campaign: improving the education, quality and working conditions of the health workforce; anti-stigma and discrimination: training healthcare workers to prevent and combat stigmatization and discrimination in healthcare settings; and health financing campaign: coordinating the effort to increase Uganda’s national healthcare budget while at the same time advocating for transparency in how health care funds are being spent.

AGHA is an active member of several coalitions operating in Uganda including the Human Rights Network (HURINET), Health Workforce Advocacy Forum (HWAF), Voice for Health Rights coalition (VHR) and International Federation of Health and Human Rights Organization (IFHHRO).  AGHA currently operates in eleven districts in Uganda: Rakai, Tororo, Mbarara, Soroti, Kitgum, Lyantonde, Bushenyi, Mukono, Pallisa, Tororo and Kampala where the secretariat is based.

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One response

6 05 2010
Sandra Kiapi

Hi Allison,

This is great!

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