By Taddeo Bwambale

KAMPALA, April 15- The Ugandan government is to set up a new agency to handle the licensing and regulation of all healthcare professionals and healthcare facilities in Uganda as well as to enforce standards of safety, quality and performance of health workers, regardless of their speciality.

The medical profession is currently regulated by the Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners Council, the Uganda Nurses and Midwives Council and the Allied Health Professionals Council.

Dr. Margaret Mungherera, a member of the Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners Council, revealed here Monday that the authority would be the supreme oversight body for the health profession.

“We are coming up with a Bill to establish the authority. This will help us to harmonise policies and efforts to regulate the profession,” Mungherera told a media briefing to mark the annual World Health Workers Week.

All medical workers would be required to register with the authority, regardless of the area of specialisation, in addition to paying a practice fee.

The authority will be in charge of investigating patient complaints and will be the only authority by law to determine the occurrence of medical errors. It will also be the authority responsible for authorising clinical experimental research.

In East Africa, Kenya and Tanzania have initiated the process to set up health regulatory authorities to license doctors, pharmacists, nurses and allied health workers.

According to Mungherera, an East African Community (EAC) health regulatory authority will be formed after all member states have established national authorities. She explained that the establishment of a regional body would allow Ugandan professionals to work in any other EAC state, in line with the common market protocol.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the establishment of national health regulatory authorities, in the wake of rising quality concerns and technical issues arising from rapid scientific advances.

Mungherera urged the government to also regulate the work of Village Health Teams (VHTs) who are trained volunteers equipped to diagnose and treat malaria, diarrhoea and pneumonia. In 2000, VHTs were introduced to help increase access to health services for communities that were distant from health facilities.

The model has since been replicated in several countries in sub-Saharan Africa which have reported significant gains in health service delivery


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