Continuous Medical Education (CME) includes packages of information that should essentially enrich health practitioners with new and innovative knowledge to enable them improve their work and service. While medicine is tailored to geographical areas, it is over time improved by innovative lessons from other countries’ health settings and general practice advancement from constant research.
The health landscape of Uganda thereby benefits immensely from CME sessions. Busoga Health Forum, a thinktank for best health promotion in Busoga and now widely recognized as the umbrella organization for medical practitioners and well-wishers who share in its vision of improving health in Busoga subregion, took on the challenge to re-educate doctors, nurses and Village Health Teams (VHTs) in their Friday 8:00pm CME series when it was accredited as a CME provider by the Ministry of health two years ago.
The organization has however recognized the need to scale beyond the online Zoom education sessions to bridge the knowledge gap among health workers in lower health facilities, especially in areas where electricity and internet connection might be a challenge on Friday nights.
Busoga Health Forum (BHF) has, therefore, taken on the initiative of conducting physical CMEs in the region. Led by Mr. Nathan Muyinda, Director of EcoPharm, a chain of pharmacies, the forum has managed to physically reach out and empower healthcare practitioners with the latest medical knowledge and practices, starting with Nsinze Health Centre IV and Namutumba Health Centre III in Namutumba District where the management of Sickle Cell Disease and vaginal infections in primary healthcare have so far been discussed.
The forum hopes to visit different health facilities every month to cover the entire region effectively. Analysis of past sessions revealed that most attendees were from hospital-level facilities, prompting BHF to address the gap in knowledge among health workers in lower-level health centers.
The physical CMEs initiative seeks to extend primary healthcare training to Health Centre II, Health Centre III, and Health Centre IV facilities to ease the burden on larger hospitals and ensure proper management of medical conditions at the grassroots level.
Other than knowledge expansion, attendees earn Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points which are a huge benefit for their health career. Busoga Health Forum was accredited as a CPD points provider by the Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners Council.
Doctors have daily confessed to the satisfaction they get from earning more points from the CME sessions and this has encouraged more people to look out for the next CME by Busoga Health Forum. Dr Mwesigwa Emmanuel at Hope and Healing Centre Kiwanyi is happy to access a free knowledge platform. For this reason, he chose to volunteer with the forum and support their work in Non-Cmmunicable Disease (NCD) management and their Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) pro bono clinics that run in Mafubira Health Centre II every last Saturday of the month.
“Our vision as Busoga Health Forum is to have a Healthy Thriving Busoga, and we believe that multiple approaches are essential to achieve this goal. Physical CMEs were designed to complement the existing Zoom training and reach healthcare practitioners who may not have access to virtual sessions,” said Mr. Nathan Muyinda when asked about the experience of running the physical CMEs.
He added that it’s been enlightening for both the organizers and the participants and that the interactions with health centers so far have revealed a genuine interest among health workers to learn and improve their practices. The health centres, however well-intentioned in the health practice, faced challenges like inconsistent drug supply in addition to excessive prescribing as their health workers have outdated information, and a lack of patient education about medicines and diseases.
The Physical CMEs have proven to be a benefit for the health workers in physical attendance who have since appreciated the opportunity to enhance their knowledge and skills. The sessions have sparked enthusiasm and motivation among them as they take that opportunity to seek further guidance on various medical conditions.
The success of the pilot physical CME that combined public and private health workers in Namutumba has encouraged the forum to expand the initiative to more government and private facilities in other parts of Busoga. The organization also plans to encourage telemedicine support to help health workers in both public and private facilities provide quality service to the people.
The in-charge of Namutumba Health Center III, Ndaye, expressed gratitude to Busoga Health Forum for bringing the CMEs to their facility, saying, “I have learned many things, and my understanding of some conditions has been polished. These sessions have motivated me to start organizing CMEs weekly.”
The physical CME initiative by Busoga Health Forum promises to improve healthcare service delivery in Busoga sub-region through empowerment of health workers at lower-level facilities with up-to-date knowledge and practices, BHF aims to enhance primary healthcare services, reduce patient overload at bigger hospitals, and ensure that the right treatment is administered with minimal wastage of medicines.
As the physical CMEs continue to roll out across the region, “Busoga Health Forum remains committed to its vision of creating a healthier and thriving Busoga through multiple innovative approaches and continuous learning for all healthcare practitioners,” concludes Moses Kyangwa, the Chief Executive Officer of Busoga Heath Forum.
This article is written by Desmond Tatumwa