Monday, 30 November 2009

First Ugandan "Healthy Baby" born

Kampala - It was all smiles for the midwives and the mother who recently gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, using the new MSI Uganda Healthy Baby vouchers to claim her medical assistance.

Jeninah Komugisha, 35 and pregnant with her fifth child, walked into the Angella Domiciliary Clinic with labour pains, showed her Healthy Baby voucher to midwives and requested assistance. A few hours later, and she was the mother of a beautiful, healthy baby girl. “I feel very grateful to the Healthy Baby scheme…. there are many more mothers who ordinarily would find it difficult to access such facilities when delivering simply because they lack the money,” said Jeninah.

The HB scheme is part of the wider output-Based Aid (OBA) initiative in Uganda, which financially empowers patients to make choices about where they receive their healthcare. The vouchers are part of Phase II of the initiative. Phase I, which began in 2006, provides vouchers for STI diagnosis and treatment and to date over 26,000 treatment episodes have been reimbursed through the STI OBA voucher programme.

Under the HB scheme women like Jeninah purchase a voucher for 3,000 Ugandan shillings (approximately US$1.50) from a network of Community Based Workers (CBW).

Having purchased a voucher the woman then submits it to her chosen healthcare provider in return for four antenatal visits, delivery services (including surgery if needed), and one postnatal visit. The scheme targets the very poorest in the community to ensure that they have access to quality services and providers that they would otherwise not have.

In turn, the healthcare provider submits the completed claim form and voucher to MSI Uganda, who, as the scheme’s management agency, pays the hospital or clinic for the cost of services provided to the woman. MSI Uganda also manages the distribution of the vouchers, activities and information to encourage behaviour, fraud control, quality assurance, and provider accreditation.

The project is a public/private partnership with the Ugandan Ministry of Health, with funding provided through the German Development Bank (KfW) and the Global Partnership for Output Based Aid (GPOBA), a World Bank Trust. “It is wonderful to have welcomed the first OBA baby into the world,” said Christine Namayanja, Programme Director of MSI Uganda. “Since then, five other babies have been born! The HB scheme is proving to be a great success.”

Aasha Pai, Regional Director, East & Southern Africa, said, “This is great news. MSI Uganda has worked hard to expand this project and this is what it’s all for: to increase access and choice for women who seek a safe delivery. There’s increasing interest in OBA approaches from donors and governments to make aid more transparent, and there’s so much other MSI Partners can learn from MSI Uganda’s experiences.”

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