The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in partnership with the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO), has deployed medical personnel and Public Health specialists as national UN Volunteers to support Uganda’s COVID-19 response.
UNDP has funded this initiative which contributes to national efforts to boost staffing levels of essential frontline medical workers to enhance surveillance, laboratory capability, case management and vaccines rollout in COVID-19 hotspot communities.
A total of five medical personnel have so far been deployed under this initiative while plans to scale up the recruitment of additional personnel are ongoing.
Uganda’s health system has been strained by the scale of the public health emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
These deployments are aimed at closing critical capacity gaps in Uganda’shealth system to enhance the response to the public health emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and save lives. While the WHO has been supporting the Ministry of Health in terms of human resources, capacity gaps remain.
The UNDP commends the Government of Uganda effort in managing and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Government has created additional treatment facilities including the Namboole Treatment Centre which was in May 2021 upgraded into a COVID-19 treatment centre for severe cases, up from its initial purpose as a treatment center for asymptomatic and mild cases. Government also created additional bed capacities at Mulago National Referral Hospital and at several regional referral hospitals, which has increased the need for more health workforce professionals such as anaesthesiologists, internal medicine specialists, medical officers and nurses.
The UNDP Resident Representative in Uganda, Ms. Elsie Attafuah, says this deployment shows the importance of partnerships in managing the COVID-19 pandemic: “The world needs solidarity to defeat COVID-19. UNDP remains committed to strengthening partnership with the Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization, and the UN Volunteers.”
Other UNDP COVID-19 support areas
The deployment of medical personnel builds on other COVID-19 response interventions by UNDP designed to support Uganda prepare, respond and build forward better from COVID-19 and its effects. UNDP partnered with WHO and the Ministry of Health to improve access to energy services for health facilities.
UNDP also supported WHO to strengthen capacities of national authorities in efforts to prevent COVID-19 infections during the 2021 general elections. The support focused on interventions to mitigate risks to election officials, health workers and other frontline workers in the election process, as well as communities.
Assessing socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19
UNDP provided technical leadership to the drafting and publication of the UN Socioeconomic Impact Report of COVID-19 in Uganda under overall leadership of the UN Resident Coordinator. The report detailed the impact of COVID-19 and defined key policy, programming, and financing recommendations to shape recovery planning, expand social protection and invest in national resilience. The outcomes of the study informed the development of the Programme Implementation Action Plans for the third National Development Plan as well as programme offerings by UN agencies in support of the people of Uganda.
UNDP also facilitated government business continuity through the provision of digital communication tools, with most Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) being availed with Zoom Enterprise Licenses to enable virtual meetings.
Youth Innovation and Entrepreneurship drive
His Excellency, President Yoweri Museveni launched the Youth4Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship Facility developed by UNDP in partnership with Stanbic Uganda Holdings Limited (Stanbic Bank Uganda and Stanbic Business Incubator) in 2020 to serve as a catalyst for innovation by enabling youth to pilot and implement sustainable and commercially viable ideas and models. The five-year initiative has provided an initial US$10 million grant on top of technical assistance, and concessional loans, providing flexible funding mechanisms that will stimulate recovery of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) from the social and economic shocks borne from COVID-19. The initiative is expected to create at least 20,000 jobs for youth, retool and skill 50,000 youths, and have a multiplier effect through the creation of over 100,000 indirect jobs.
In the past one year, the Facility has benefited over 40 Youth Enterprises with grants of up to US$40,000 (approximately US$1.6 million).
To scale up this Youth Innovation and Entrepreneurship drive, UNDP partnered with BRAC Uganda to increase access to employment and livelihood opportunities for 7,500 economically active youth in several target districts throughout Uganda through apprenticeship opportunities, business support kits, business development support, mentorship, and coaching, as well as facilitating business and market linkages.
UNDP partnered with National Association of Student Enterprises (NASE) to rally young people, especially during lockdown, to provide youth with an interactive and collaborative process to develop and refine their ideas for products, services and solutions that help Uganda respond to and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. UNDP have received 3,586 business ideas - against a target of 1,000 - testament to the hunger and drive of the youth to better themselves.
UNDP is also partnering with the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities and the Rolex Initiative to conduct an eight-week capacity building exercise for 500 youth food vendors across 10 designated districts within the Rwenzori sub-region. Training sessions are aimed at supporting food vendors to improve business hygiene standards, practice sustainable management of finances and promote environmental awareness through improved waste management and utilization of clean cooking technologies.
UNDP has also launched the Take on the P.E.A.R.L. Innovation Challenge Call, supporting the piloting and scaling of inclusive business solutions to drive recovery of Uganda’s tourism sector. The initiative addresses business-level barriers through targeted funding with targeted technical assistance.
COVID-19 Business Recovery Solutions
UNDP has partnered with eight private sector entities to pilot and or scale up inclusive business solutions as a mechanism to recover from the impact of COVID-19, by addressing key business-level barriers through targeted funding and/or targeted technical assistance.