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According to reproductive health experts in Uganda, 6000 Ugandan women die every year from preventable pregnancy and child birth related complications. Yet, if women could only deliver under skilled care, about 80 percent of these deaths could be prevented. The reasons for not delivering in a health facility are several. But the main ones in Uganda include financial limitations, long distances to health facilities coupled with lack of access to transport facilities, lack of decision making power among women, inability to afford the medical supplies that are often compulsory at health facilities, rude unmotivated health workers and preference for traditional child birth settings.


FHS Phase 1

To address these issues, in Phase 1 FHS Uganda set up a 'Safe Deliveries Project' that established both demand (vouchers for transport and maternal services) and supply-side initiatives (training health workers and provision of essential equipment, drugs and supplies).

To implement the intervention, vouchers and registers for the vouchers were distributed to participating 22 health facilities in the districts of Kamuli and Pallisa. Drugs, supplies and equipments were procured and distributed to all participating health facilities to supplement the requirements for safe, clean deliveries. In addition, payments were made to transporters once every two weeks after they had submitted their transport vouchers. Health units also received payments once a month according to the number of service vouchers collected during that period.

The pilot phase was for 3 months from December 2009 to February 2010. And by the end of the pilot only conducted in Kamuli District, health facilities were already overwhelmed by the surge in numbers seeking maternal services. The number of number of facility deliveries was less than 200 per month but this increased to more than 500 per month. 

FHS Phase 2

Following the success of the Safe Deliveries Project, the second phase of FHS Uganda will focus on developing on a more sustainable mechanism of financing and managing the project so that the gains can be sustained. In particular:

  • The team will explore different methods of mobilizing community resources for maternal and newborn health.  To address some of the challenges found in implementing the voucher study, they will introduce the use of community health workers, who will also provide health education and promotion about maternal and newborn health through home visits. This work will be done in Buyende, Kamuli and Iganga districts using a quasi-experimental design.
  • In Pallisa, the team will use action research methods to test different approaches for mobilizing financial, social and human resources that exist within the community for improving maternal and newborn health. 

FHS Partners

 Makerere University School of Public Health

Makerere University School of Public Health

News and announcements from FHS Uganda

MEETING: Learning by doing: how to engage with stakeholders in implementation research?

A “learning-by-doing” approach, using tools and techniques that are inclusive, participatory, and flexible, can help engagement and learning in different contexts to improve the delivery of health services.

This DC Health Systems Board event will bring together researchers and practitioners to share their experiences of engaging and working alongside service providers, beneficiaries, officials, and other local stakeholders through implementation research, and to discuss tools that can support such processes.

NEW SUPPLEMENT: Engaging Stakeholders in Implementation Research: tools, approaches, and lessons learned from application

FHS is pleased to announce the publication of a new BMC Health Research Policy and Systems supplement , titled Engaging Stakeholders in Implementation Research: tools, approaches, and lessons learned from application.

Implementation research and the engagement of stakeholders in such research have become increasingly prominent in finding ways to design, conduct, expand and sustain effective and equitable health policies, programmes and related interventions. 

The articles in this supplement examine some of the tools and approaches used to facilitate stakeholder engagement in implementation research, and describe learning from the experience of the Future Health Systems (FHS) Research Programme Consortium.

NEW SUPPLEMENT: Leaving no one behind: the role of gender analyses in strengthening health systems

Health Policy and Planning has launched a new supplement examining gender across a range of health policy and systems contexts, from access to services, governance, health financing, and human resources for health. Spearheaded by Research in Gender and Ethics: Building Stronger Health Systems (RinGs), this supplement includes articles which draw upon research from the three Research Programme Consortia (RPC) which RinGs brings together: Future Health Systems, ReBUILD and RESYST. 

Recent FHS Uganda Publications


Kananura RM, Ekirapa-Kiracho E, Paina L, Bumba A, Mulekwa G, Nakiganda-Busiku D, Oo HNL, Kiwanuka SN, George A and Peters DH (2017) Participatory monitoring and evaluation approaches that influence decision-making: lessons from a maternal and newborn study in Eastern Uganda, Health Research Policy and Systems, 15(Suppl 2):107, DOI: 10.1186/s12961-017-0274-9

The use of participatory monitoring and evaluation (M&E) approaches is important for guiding local decision-making, promoting the implementation of effective interventions and addressing emerging issues in the course of implementation. In this article, we explore how participatory M&E approaches helped to identify key design and implementation issues and how they influenced stakeholders’ decision-making in eastern Uganda.

Tetui M, Coe A-B, Hurtig A-H, Bennett S, Kiwanuka SN, George A and Ekirapa Kiracho E (2017) A participatory action research approach to strengthening health managers’ capacity at district level in Eastern Uganda, Health Research Policy and Systems, 15(Suppl 2):110, DOI: 10.1186/s12961-017-0273-x

Many approaches to improving health managers’ capacity in poor countries, particularly those pursued by external agencies, employ non-participatory approaches and often seek to circumvent (rather than strengthen) weak public management structures. This limits opportunities for strengthening local health managers’ capacity, improving resource utilisation and enhancing service delivery. This study explored the contribution of a participatory action research approach to strengthening health managers’ capacity in Eastern Uganda.

Paina L, Wilkinson A, Tetui M, Ekirapa-Kiracho E, Barman D, Ahmed T, Mahmood SS, Bloom G, Knezovich J, George A and Bennett S (2017) Using Theories of Change to inform implementation of health systems research and innovation: experiences of Future Health Systems consortium partners in Bangladesh, India and Uganda, Health Research Policy and Systems, 15(Suppl 2):109, DOI: 10.1186/s12961-017-0272-y

The Theory of Change (ToC) is a management and evaluation tool supporting critical thinking in the design, implementation and evaluation of development programmes. We document the experience of Future Health Systems (FHS) Consortium research teams in Bangladesh, India and Uganda with using ToC. We seek to understand how and why ToCs were applied and to clarify how they facilitate the implementation of iterative intervention designs and stakeholder engagement in health systems research and strengthening.

Bennett S, Mahmood SS, Edward A, Tetui M and Ekirapa-Kiracho E (2017) Strengthening scaling up through learning from implementation: comparing experiences from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Uganda, Health Research Policy and Systems, 15(Suppl 2):108, DOI: 10.1186/s12961-017-0270-0

Many effective innovations and interventions are never effectively scaled up. Implementation research (IR) has the promise of supporting scale-up through enabling rapid learning about the intervention and its fit with the context in which it is implemented. We integrate conceptual frameworks addressing different dimensions of scaling up (specifically, the attributes of the service or innovation being scaled, the actors involved, the context, and the scale-up strategy) and questions commonly addressed by IR (concerning acceptability, appropriateness, adoption, feasibility, fidelity to original design, implementation costs, coverage and sustainability) to explore how IR can support scale-up.

Tetui M, Coe A-B, Hurtig A-K, Ekirapa-Kiracho E and Kiwanuka SN (2017) Experiences of using a participatory action research approach to strengthen district local capacity in Eastern Uganda, Global Health Action, 10:sup4, 1346038, DOI: 10.1080/16549716.2017.1346038

To achieve a sustained improvement in health outcomes, the way health interventions are designed and implemented is critical. A participatory action research approach is applauded for building local capacity such as health management. Thereby increasing the chances of sustaining health interventions. This study explored stakeholder experiences of using PAR to implement an intervention meant to strengthen the local district capacity.