The Ugandan private sector has emerged as an important player in the countries’ health sector in recent years, providing health services both to their employees and communities within which they work. The new Health Initiatives for the Private Sector (HIPS) Project, launched on 22 April 22 2008, works with the Ugandan business community to find cost-effective ways to ensure access to and utilization of vital health services for company employees, their dependents and the surrounding community members. Perhaps a model to follow for the UN and others, the project is a perfect example of a successful public-private partnership pushed by a bilateral donor, in this case the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which is funding the project for three years. USAID and HIPS will work in collaboration with Ugandan companies to design and implement comprehensive health workplace programs in the areas of HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis (TB), Malaria, Reproductive Health and Family Planning and support to Orphans and other Vulnerable Children (OVC). The prime objective of the project is to expand health services in the private sector through public-private partnerships.
The HIPS Project is undertaking activities in the areas of prevention, treatment, and training to ensure that access to health programs are improved and expanded via the private sector. For example, in partnership with companies, HIPS is developing health information materials and peer education programs for employees and surrounding community members to increase knowledge and to encourage healthier behaviors (lifestyle). In addition to the peer education, the project also conducts health fairs. Health Fairs are being used as an integrated entertainment education format for employees and community sensitization using the Uganda Health Marketing Group’s established communication platform ‘The Good Life at Work’ (which positions health in a holistic way and is not just the absence of disease). Activities include: employee education seminars; lunch break video shows; interactive community drama with forum theatre approaches and live, Good Life game show events. HIPS facilitates the events and brings together partners who offer varying services during the Health Fairs.
The Project also facilitates access to lower cost health products such as long lasting, insecticide treated mosquito nets, water purification and family planning products through our partner the Uganda Health Marketing Group (UHMG). Most critically, the Project is expanding access to vital AIDS and TB treatment through partnerships in which companies extend their health service to the community and HIPS assist companies in receiving MOH accreditation of their health facilities, allowing for access of free anti-retrovirals and TB drugs. HIPS also aims to expand the number of qualified and accredited private sector health providers in the areas of HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria. Furthermore, HIPS supports company/private health providers to attend training at the Mildmay Centre, an internationally recognized AIDS treatment and training center. Through this partnership, companies like Nile Breweries, Royal Van Zanten, James Finlay’s, Kinyara Sugar works, Roofings Limited, and Kasese Cobalt Limited have opened up their clinics to their neighboring communities to enable them access to free AIDS Treatment. HIPS pays for the training of providers, some of the testing materials and laboratory equipment while the companies pay the staff salaries, drugs and other costs necessary to run the clinic.
In its first year of operations, HIPS seeks to reach more than 200,000 Ugandans with prevention and treatment messages on HIV/AIDS, TB, Malaria and Reproductive Health. The project will also facilitate access for 1,500 people to free Anti-retroviral drugs provided by the Ministry of Health, and train 350 healthcare providers in AIDS Treatment, as well as TB and HIV-related palliative care. Says Barbara Addy, Chief of Party of the HIPS Project: “HIPS is about creating win-win situations. By extending quality health services, companies will be able to profit from a healthier and thus more productive workforce and employees, their families and surrounding communities will have access to high-quality health services.”
Additionally, the HIPS Project is collaborating with companies to encourage incorporation of OVC support within their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategies. Part of this strategy includes a matching grants program in which HIPS can contribute to a Company’s programs that support OVCs in their communities. One of our partner companies, Nile Breweries, was already providing OVC care and support to registered sorghum growers in the 4 regions of the country. This partnership will allow Nile Breweries to scale up this support and provide comprehensive care and support, train community care givers, establish functional referral mechanism for OVC and set up collaboration mechanisms with other partners in the areas.
HIPS also works closely with two major Ugandan business associations, Federation of Ugandan Employers (FUE) and Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA), to strengthen their member services through involvement in national health policy issues and capacity in workplace health programs.
The project is led by the Emerging Markets Group, an international development consulting firm, with partners Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, the Midmay Centre and O’Brien and Associates International, Uganda Health Marketing Group, and the Straightalk Foundation. HIPS builds on the successes of the predecessor project, the Business PART (Preventing AIDS and Accelerating Access to Antiretroviral Treatment) Project, also implemented by the Emerging Markets Group.
For more information, please contact Ms. Barbara Addy, Chief of Party, Uganda Health Initiatives for the Private Sector Project