HRH Leaders in Action: Eddie Mukooyo
An interview series with HRH champions in developing countries produced by the HRH Global Resource Center. The current HRH Leaders in Action series looks at HRH and knowledge management and information systems.
Dr. Eddie Mukooyo is the Assistant Commissioner of the Resource Center for the Uganda Ministry of Health and the Chair of the Uganda Health Workforce Advisory Board.
How would you describe the role of knowledge management and knowledge sharing within the Ministry of Health?
Knowledge management is something that is now coming up. It is new. We've done a lot of work in terms of different areas in human resources, but also in terms of HIV/AIDS. However, it becomes difficult to access some of this information in real time. Therefore, knowledge management is a big challenge for us. We need to put in place systems that will allow us to capture data, reports, research and events that have occurred so that they can inform us better for the future.
What is the role of the Resource Center within the Ministry of Health as it relates to HRH?
As I told you one of the mandates of the Resource Center is to put in place a functional human resources information system (HRIS). In so doing the challenge has been to bring together the different stakeholders so that we can take stock of what existing data bases we have on human resources. As you know Uganda was hit by Ebola in August. It was confirmed in November. We had to look at the different human resources that we have. The database that we developed at the Ministry was relevant at that point in time because we were able to tease out those who had an epidemiological background and of course those that had laboratory background. These would support the districts that were in need in Bundibugyo where we had the outbreak. You can see that having the HRIS that gives you data on people skills in terms of qualifications and experience, is relevant in times of crisis.
Would you briefly describe the work of the Health Workforce Advisory board and what you believe is unique about it as a knowledge-sharing forum?
The Uganda HWAB came into formation out of need from different stake holders who have been burdened by need of health information on human resources which they could not get - came together and during that meeting, which was facilitated by Capacity project which is supported by USAID, we were able to brainstorm on what are the challenges we are having, given our different portfolios. What were the key policy decisions or questions we have on human resources? At the end of the day we realized that we all had common questions that were affecting the way we worked and therefore agreed to work together as a group or forum that brings the different stakeholders together to develop, harmonise and integrate the different HRH information subsystems.
What other kinds of HRH information do you use and why?
With the regional organizations like East African Community and East, Centeral and South African Health Community, we are developing regional databases that will inform us not only on the disease patterns in the region for surveillance purposes and quick response, but also on the human resources that we have to enable quicker response so that each member state can even call on expertise that may be available in different states to support them in specific diseases that are unique like Ebola. We are in addition contributing to the African Observatory on HRH to facilitate comparison across nations in Africa.
Describe the role of technology on information sharing in Uganda.
The limitation of technology even if it is a good tool depends on who is using it. If you don't put in the right information, accurate data, you will get garbage out of it. Data that enters needs to be accurate, complete and therefore informs us better on what is on ground. Those that access that information can therefore believe in it and depend on it to make decisions. Technology facilitates access in real time and decision making.
What are the main challenges you are facing right now in knowledge management and knowledge sharing?
I believe knowledge management and sharing can be improved in Uganda by making sure the districts have internet points of presence. They should be supported to have internet facilities and therefore can link to the knowledge management or knowledge sharing portal so that all of our health workers that are out there in the rural areas are not isolated to information. Hence, they can access all the rich sources that are available through the knowledge management portal.
At a global level, what is your vision of how Knowledge management can strengthen HRH for leadership?
As you know, knowledge and information is useful for action. If you don't use it for action, it is useless. Many people are doing a lot of work for human resources for health, not only in Uganda but regionally and globally. This information, best practices and experiences need to be shared.
Have you ever visited the HRH global resource center and how has it supported your work?
Yes, I have visited the Global Resource Center. It is a wonderful rich resource for HRH. As you know with the work we are doing with the Uganda HWAB we are able to carry out the retention study. In order to do that we needed a background information check. This portal provided a lot of information that was useful to us. After doing that study, we were also able to find out that a number of our nurses, especially those who were well-trained are the ones that are migrating. So we went to the portal to look at some of the reasons and some of the challenges other areas and other countries are facing in terms of addressing outmigration. So this portal is a rich portal that is useful for human resources management.