Log in
Free: The Observer Mobile App - Exclusive Content and Services

UHMG: We shouldn't throw away the baby with bath water

"Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater" is a German idiom that can be traced as far back as 1512.

It was used to simply refer to an avoidable error in which something good is eliminated in the process of trying to get rid of something bad, in other words, rejecting the favourable along with the unfavourable. In modern day management and corporate governance, it is used to mean keeping your eyes on the ball; learning how to separate the essential from unessential.

I would like to use the above idiom in specific reference to Uganda Health Marketing Group (UHMG), an indigenous Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) that I have been closely associated with since inception.

Founded in October 2006, with a vision of promoting “a Good Life for all Ugandans” through increasing access to quality and affordable healthcare solutions, to especially, the hard-to-reach and vulnerable populations of Uganda.

UHMG’s core areas of intervention include: HIV/Aids, sexual and reproductive health, maternal and child health, malaria and Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs). Working closely with the ministry of Health and guided by the national health policies and frameworks, over the past 11 years, UHMG has developed strong and growing expertise in social marketing, procurement and supply chain management, health communication, advocacy, private sector engagement through franchising and use of technology for health.

To achieve this ambitious goal, the founders of UHMG believed in and have indeed built a strong stakeholder network of like-minded partners, such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), UN development agencies specifically UNFPA, Planned Parenthood Global among others; all in collaboration with the ministry of Health, district Local Governments, civil society organisations and the private sector.

This has been complemented by very strong community structures (including Good Life Clinics and Promoters), which have enabled reach end-mile service delivery and distribution of health products and services. Over the last 11 years, UHMG’s social behavioural change communications campaigns have reached over 21 million Ugandans - 75% of the Ugandan population.

We have backed this up with the distribution of affordable sexual reproductive health products such as moon beads, oral contraceptive pills, condoms as well as water purification solutions. As a result, between 2013 and 2017, we have cumulatively distributed 1,880,541 long-lasting insecticide nets and 299,013, 888 condoms.

Through our network of 256 Good Life Clinics (GLC) across the country we have offered several Ugandans a series of integrated services in sexual and reproductive health, maternal and child health, HIV/Aids, malaria and nutrition.

I have every reason to believe that, much as there is still much work to do, our interventions have directly contributed to the positive improvement, on some indicators, as reported in the Uganda Demographic Health Survey Report (2016).

For example, modern contraceptive use rose to 39% from 35% in 2011 and total demand for family planning has increased to 67% and as a result, there has been a 48.5% reduction in unintended pregnancies recorded, from 386,235 in 2013/14 to 198,764 in 2016/17. However, there is still work to be done as the unmet need for family planning has gone up to 67% (2016) from 64% (2006).

We have also registered significant reductions in infant mortality from 71/1000 in 2006 to 43/1000 in 2016, while comprehensive knowledge on HIV prevention has gone up to 87%.

Because of such a solid reputation and a good track record of project implementation, UHMG in November 2015 was awarded the USAID Social Marketing Activity Project (SMA), a four-year, $24 million, and cooperative agreement for a health sector-wide program.

SMA’s major goal was to contribute to a reduction in new HIV infections, total fertility, maternal and child mortality, malnutrition and malaria, and to improve access to family planning.

The program also focused on improving utilisation of and increase the uptake of health-related social marketing products and services among under-served Ugandan consumers and communities in rural and urban areas.

Sometime this year, UHMG’s regular internal compliance reviews picked up a fraud alert. Following comprehensive internal compliance processes, 5 project staff that were implicated in the fraud were subjected to disciplinary proceedings and subsequently dismissed.

These cases were further reported to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), the USAID office responsible for detecting and preventing fraud, waste, abuse, and violations of law as well as promote, efficiency and effectiveness in the operations of USAID.

However, the reporting procedure was found to be non-compliant with USAID’s cooperative agreement and regulations. As a result, unfortunately, USAID terminated the cooperative agreement citing: “default to report fraud”.

The termination by USAID, unfortunately meant that as an organisation, we had to let go of almost all the program staff; a painful but inevitable step to, especially, ensure the sustainability of the remaining business units and staff.

However, all staff were treated humanely and their terminal benefits paid. Specifically, I would also like to address myself, to the ongoing “online” campaign by some of our former staff asking that senior leadership of the organisation step down as a way of accepting responsibility and in the hope that our donors may reconsider their position on UHMG.

While we appreciate the deep concern of these former staff for the organisation, I wish to call upon them to give us some time to get to the bottom of the matter.

UHMG founders, the board and management are committed to mending the relationship with USAID through strengthening UHMG’s compliance and internal control systems and ensuring that staff abide by the organizational policies and donor regulations, among other initiatives.

Having integrity has been and continues to be crucial to UHMG’s success and we shall leave no stone unturned. However, I must also add that, much as collective responsibility is key, but so is individual responsibility. Everyone must take full accountability of their individual actions and adhere to our zero tolerance to corruption policy.

UHMG is at its most critical time in its history; as a team, how well we resolve this issue is important in defining our future. Steadfast leadership, focused stakeholder engagement, and more importantly, justice for all, are going to be key facets on which this recovery strategy is built.

We must give justice time to work and avoid “social media-based mob justice” because justice for one, is justice for all; just like “A Good Life for all Ugandans starts with A Good life for one Ugandan”.

The writer is a founder member of UHMG, a member of the AGM and interim board chairman.

Comments

0 #1 Akot 2018-11-02 19:05
The "bad thing" in Uganda is Museveni & there will never be a start for any thing good for Ugandans as long as he stays on!

What future is there for Uganda when it's Museveni & no other, while Ugandans forget the demon is also human & will 1 day die?

Ugandans wait, loop up to Museveni for everything, there is no alternative to the demon, so what will they do when he will be no more?

Museveni is not the one going to save Uganda & nothing good will be realised under him, not especially after +32 years!

How can any country have affordable healthcare without National Education for ALL chidlren to as far as they can go, to allow jobs/job creation & development?

Germans made a mistake by giving their Chancellor a third therm that made her lose sense of reality & became self conceited & plunged the country & Europe in chaos!...
Report to administrator
0 #2 Akot 2018-11-02 19:12
...German Chancellor knows she has nothing to offer now to her country/Europe, yet wants to finish her term then stand down - how selfish!

Don't Ugandans remember when T. Blair was given & third term, Brits saw immediately it was a mistake, then his own party got rid of him, to save the country?

Don't Ugandans know USA presidential term is 4 years, renewable only once?

Museveni has seen at least 5 new leaders in USA-Europe, but as one sees, 5 more will come & go while Museveni destroys Uganda in peace & our people just go along providing him tax money he considers his pocket money!

How can any Ugandan, educated or not, still think there is chance under Museveni & things will finally start getting better & who can there be plans for a tomorrow with the same demon in power for +32 years?
Report to administrator
0 #3 Akot 2018-11-02 19:31
We should be reminded, at this point, unending migrating to Europe has turned it upside down: Africans...are looking for Education knowing they will get Healthcare, housing & other social services the moment they are in Europe - even Europe jungles/street camps are better than the shitholes they ran away from!

Today Americans opposing D. Trump are so quiet about hundrends of thousand migrants marching to USA demanding their rights to be taken! These migrants are saying their problem is USA presient who wants to block them!

But these migrants never accuse nor blame the useless rulers they are leaving their countries to, the very useless rulers USA gives billiolns of dollars to in aid!

Why are Ugandans just planning, defending their posts even knowing tax money belongs to Museveni who gives no social services to +50% very poor Ugandans?
Report to administrator
0 #4 Akot 2018-11-02 19:44
There should be just 1 subject in Uganda: getting rid of Museveni, to give a start to any plans for a tomorrow!

Why are Ugandans the only people in today world to go along with a demon dictator chief tribal leader who only lives to oppress, humiliate, enslave them?

Why do Ugandans still believe they have tribal lands when they belong to Museveni?

How can Ugandans go along with the tribalistic system when not 1 so called tribal leader stands up to demand his subjects, ensure they are treated decently, educated, given healthcare...?

How can Museveni own Uganda tax money & our people just go along slaving for the former asylum seeker who is making sure they are slaves in their own country?

Why does Museveni who has no tribal land in Uganda, rule through a tribalistic system & will do so till he dies of old age at +90?
Report to administrator
0 #5 Stewart 2018-11-05 11:35
Sorry Mr. Founder Member, by the time the donor cut the cord they knew the depth of the rot, the problem with our Boards are the general happiness of sitting in air-conditioned board rooms making no concrete decision and receiving their allowances and waiting for the next, even when there is gross deviations from policies or frauds they normally opt to sit over them, that's what is called, "Seductive embrace of mediocrity", accepting substandard and feeling great with it, unfortunately that works only in Uganda, that's why you have been given a shouting march.
Report to administrator
0 #6 Fuller 2018-11-05 18:09
I checked out the writer's history and found out the following:

Failed to lead Makerere University, Kampala, left it in endless strikes on the brink of collapse.

Failed as ambassador and left Uganda Embassy in UK in debt, tatters, total disarray.

Excellent paper qualifications but all-round unable to lead.

So, when Prof George talks about "A good Life for all Ugandans" he is most likely talking about himself, his family and inner circle of friends -- he and them get paid well for talking a good game.
Report to administrator
0 #7 Lakwena 2018-11-06 12:35
Quoting Fuller:
I checked out the writer's history and found out the following:

Failed to lead Makerere University, Kampala, left it in endless strikes on the brink of collapse.

Failed as ambassador and left Uganda Embassy in UK in debt, tatters, total disarray. ...


But Fuller, with due respect; blame the wows of Makerere and the Uganda Embassy in UK respectively under Prof. Kirya on the current regime.

For Makerere's debacle, Nobert Mao and Rwomusana. The regime started sabotaging quality education and especially scholarship at Makerere University.

It started by budget cuts, e.g., scraping the Boom-thing, and absconding from social justice and responsibility to Ugandans (taxpayers);

That sabotage freaked out students and parents. Hence the strikes, which Kirya couldn't do anything about
Report to administrator
0 #8 Lakwena 2018-11-06 12:44
When it comes to the Foreign Service: to date, which of Uganda's embassies do not suffer the embarrassment of unsustainable debts, due to under funding? All of them, regardless of which foreign Capital they are located.

E.g. during the same period, who was in charge Brussels premises when one the embassy's building was being occupied by homeless drug addicts?
Report to administrator
0 #9 Fuller 2018-11-07 19:07
Quoting Lakwena:
Quoting Fuller:
I checked out the writer's history and found out the following:

Failed to lead Makerere University, Kampala, left it in endless strikes on the brink of collapse.

Failed as ambassador and left Uganda Embassy in UK in debt, tatters, total disarray. ...


But Fuller, with due respect; blame the wows of Makerere and the Uganda Embassy in UK respectively under Prof. Kirya on the current regime.

For Makerere's debacle, Nobert Mao and Rwomusana. The regime started sabotaging quality education and especially scholarship at Makerere University.

It started by budget cuts, e.g., scraping the Boom-thing, and absconding from social justice and responsibility to Ugandans (taxpayers);

That sabotage freaked ......

Good point Lakwena. How about the disarray that Prof. George left at the Uganda Embassy in in UK?
Report to administrator
0 #10 kabayekka 2018-11-10 16:22
The meaning of what this writer is talking about is simple in our peasantry African culture.

As a sensible farmer, do not slaughter and eat the Chicken that lays the golden eggs.
Report to administrator

Comments are now closed for this entry

Bunga Bet