Uganda Catholic Medical Bureau (UCMB), was formed in 1934 and is owned by the Catholic Bishops of Uganda under the auspices of the Uganda Episcopal Conference (UEC) as its health department. It is therefore a fully-fledged health department of the UEC which is itself fully incorporated as “The Registered Trustees of Uganda Episcopal Conference” under the Trustees Incorporations Act (see attached certificate of Incorporation) and is located at the Uganda Catholic Secretariat on plot 672, Hanlon road, Nsambya hill, Kampala. The Certificate of Incorporation is attached.
The Uganda Catholic Secretariat (UCS) where all its technical departments of the UEC, including the UCMB, is the central point of the technical work of the Uganda Episcopal Conference. Whereas UCMB was already formed in 1934, it’s mother, the Uganda Episcopal Conference itself was founded in 1961 and formally incorporated in 1983 and the Secretariat (UCS) formed later.
In 1955 UCMB was gazette by the Colonial Government as a channel for grants-in-aid to catholic founded health facilities. It means UCMB was recognized by the Government of Uganda, and in particular the Ministry of Health before independence and before the formal incorporation of the Conference of the Catholic Bishops, the Uganda Episcopal Conference.
Upon incorporation of the Bishops’ Conference as The Registered Trustees of Uganda Episcopal Conference, the Conference has worked to retrospectively incorporate UCMB and such other technical arms they had earlier created as departments of the new legal body. Consequently UCMB became a department, governed by the Health Commission of the Uganda Episcopal Conference (on behalf of the whole Conference) exercising a function similar to a Board of Directors or Board of Governors, appointed by the Conference. As by Canon Law, the Members of the Commission are Bishops, appointed at the Plenary of the Uganda Episcopal Conference.
The Health Commission which is one of the Permanent Commissions of the Uganda Episcopal Conference established, like other Commissions, was created under Can.451 which, in part states “… offices and Commissions by which, in the judgment of the Conference, its purpose can more effectively be achieved”. It is also in accordance with the Approved Statute of Uganda Episcopal Conference, Article 21 (clause 1 to 4).
The actual governors, or Commission members in this case, are the Bishops and the other members, lay or priests, are collaborators, included for the purposes, mainly technical, mentioned above – Ref. Can. 129 (1&2).
- 129 (1) “Those who are in sacred orders are, in accordance with the provision of law, capable of the power of governance, which belongs to the Church by divine instruction. This power is called the power if jurisdiction.
- Can 129 (2) “Lay members of Christ’s faithful can cooperate in the exercise of this same power in accordance with the law”.
By comparison, The Registered Trustees of Uganda Episcopal Conference is to UCMB what the Government of Uganda is to the Ministry of Health. In other words, UCMB is like the “Ministry of Health” of the Catholic Church in Uganda. Therefore, anything UCMB does or acquires belongs to The Registered Trustees of Uganda Episcopal Conference, just like anything the Ministry of Health does or acquires belongs to or is done on behalf of The Government of Uganda. In a similar way, when the Ministry of Health enters into partnerships, or were to build a factory for medicines, or start Medical Supply Chain (National Medical Stores) it does so on behalf of Government of Uganda. Similarly, any other investment UCMB makes, legally belongs to the Catholic Church in Uganda under the legal status of The Registered Trustees of Uganda Episcopal Conference.
UCMB is now primarily responsible for health services of the Catholic Church in Uganda, which responsibility covers national coordination, health systems strengthening (a function that cuts across all its mandate), and representation (nationally and internationally), advocacy, and providing liaison as well as coordinating service delivery programs and projects. There are currently 296 health facilities accredited to UCMB with more soon to get accredited. Because this number consists of the largest PNFP hospitals, large number of Health Center level III and only a small number of level II Health Centers, it makes the UCMB much larger than any other non-government network of health services in Uganda. Fifteen of the hospitals have health training institutions which total to 37 individual schools. It has 10200 health workers.
UCMB collaborates with the Uganda Martyrs University, also owned by Uganda Episcopal Conference, to provide training through its Faculty of Health Sciences and the Mother Kevin Medical School.
Technical and structural responsibilities.
Through UCMB (its health department) the UEC operates the largest network of non-governmental health service providers in Uganda. It currentlycoordinates 296 accredited Catholic Church founded health facilities, ensures quality, builds the capacity of, and strengthens health systems in the Catholic health network. It also provides technical input to guide policy formulation by the Uganda Episcopal Conference with regard to the role and participation of the Catholic Church in the health services of Uganda, the AMECEA region, Africa (SECAM) and globally.
The Bureau’s other core functions include representing the Catholic healthcare network and managing partnerships with other public and private organizations as well as other local and international health development agencies; carrying out advocacy and liaising with other organs of the Conference. UCMB is a member of the National Health Policy Advisory Committee (HPAC) and various technical working groups at the Ministry of Health through which we strategically contribute towards shaping Uganda’s Health Policy agenda.
The Bureau’s other core functions include representing the Catholic healthcare network and managing partnerships with other public and private organizations as well as other local and international health development agencies; carrying out advocacy and liaising with other organs of the Uganda Episcopal Conference.
UCMB is a member of the National Health Policy Advisory Committee (HPAC) and various technical working groups at the Ministry of Health through which it strategically contributes towards shaping Uganda’s Health Policy agenda. The UEC network consists of 33 hospitals, 2 of which are specialized, 13 Nurse Training Schools, 2 Laboratory Training School and 263 lower level health facilities throughout Uganda (see map attached) making up 23% (32/139) of the total hospitals, 13% of total health facilities in Uganda. Catholic health facilities accredited to UCMB contribute 27.5% of total national hospital bed capacity, and 39% of the Institutions Training Nurses, Midwives and Lab Technicians.
Overall, UEC health care network under its health department, the UCMB serves approximately 15-17% of the total population in the Country. UEC-UCMB health facilities are non-discriminatory serving all individuals and communities regardless of tribe, color, religion, nationality, sexual orientation. Through its Health Commission, the UEC oversees the work of UCMB in order to ensure that the health services of the Catholic Church are consistent with the vision and mission of the Church as well as the National Health Policy in Uganda.
Human Resource: UEC-UCMB has a multidisciplinary technical team that includes Public Health doctors, finance managers and accountants, strategic information officers (for monitoring and evaluation), internal audit, procurement and administrators. The workforce at the UCMB headquarters totals to 47 and has been engaged in the management of different projects.
Leadership of faith-based Medical Bureau partnership
As the technical arm of the Uganda Episcopal Conference, UCMB has teamed with sister religious Medical Bureaus to set up the Inter Bureau Coalition (IBC) in order to provide a collaborative framework for the provision of holistic quality health care services in Uganda; serve as a mechanism for channeling technical and financial resources primarily to health facilities accredited/affiliated to Medical Bureaus and to strengthen health systems at all levels of health service delivery within the faith based health network. UCMB is also the current chair of the IBC.
Contribution to national health outputs
In 2018/2019, out of the national total, health facilities accredited to UCMB contributed:
- Ten percent (10%) of all TB patients on treatment
- Fifteen percent (15%) of all extra-pulmonary TB (bacteriologically or clinically diagnosed)
- Ten percent (10%) of all clinically diagnosed TB
- Eleven percent (11%) of all bacteriologically confirmed TB cases
- Eleven percent (11%) of the National Antiretroviral Treatment (ART) outputs throughout the Country, while as a lead IBC Bureau in Kampala region, UEC contributes 26% of the Kampala regional ART outputs from just 30 of its supported facilities, while in Masaka region, we contribute 16% of the region outputs under the auspices of the IBC framework.
UCMB has vast experience in building and strengthening Corporate Governance of health facilities in the network through training, mentorship,development of governance and management tools, mentorship and support supervision. This has enabled network facilities to operate as corporate entities and sustainably provide health services over the years.
Key things about the Uganda Catholic Medical Bureau
a) Belongs to and is the health department of the Registered Trustees of Uganda Episcopal Conference which is an incorporated local organization, with a firm foundational heritage. UCMB was founded back to 1934 and in 1955 was chosen by the colonial government as a channel grant-in-aid channel for Catholic founded health facilities at the time and has progressively accumulated institutional experience and technical capacity to manage a national robust and vibrant network of multi-tiered health facilities—296 multi-level accredited facilities constituting 25% of the national hospital pool, and 8% Lower Level Health Units in Uganda and health programs across the country—with the development of relevant financial, governance and human resources tools, policies and systems.
b) The first in the country to institute an accreditation system for health facilities and has implemented it for over 12 years within its network of facilities to ensure continuous quality improvement and assurance.
c) Participates in National Policy dialogue initiatives, Policy development and implementation fora—namely the Health Policy Advisory Committee (HPAC) and various MoH Technical Working Groups (TWGs). This provides opportunity to influence policy and service delivery.
d) UCMB has a last-mile decentralized and structured system of operation from the national level to a community of household level—through Diocesan Health Coordination offices and parish health desks.
e) Coordinates the largest network of faith-based Private-Not-For Profit (PNFP) health facilities. This not just about numbers of health facilities but volume of the facilities, output and human resources. It has 33 hospitals (over 50% of the PNFP hospitals), ………, 10,200 health workers as of ……
f) Has the relevant and appropriate technical capacity to implement high value National programs—through an integrated institutional system-wide approach—ranging from building and strengthening facility governance structures and capacities, technical operational capabilities at facilities to community initiatives.
g) Co-owns the Joint Medical Store (JMS) with Uganda Protestant Medical Bureau (UPMB). JMS procures, warehouses and distributes health commodities to the PNFP sub-sector as well as other entities and is currently the alternative distribution strategic partner for Family Planning Commodities. The UEC shall leverage the 40-year pharmaceutical technical experience and capacity of JMS to ensure seamless HIV/AIDS commodity supply chain management.
h) Capacity to engage in meaningful and valuable partnerships—including its current leadership of the Inter-Bureau Coalition (IBC)—the coalition of the 4 nationally-recognized Medical Bureaus—namely Uganda Muslim, Protestant & Orthodox Medical Bureaus, as well as accumulated experience and expertise in managing national, community-based, regional and international partnerships—such as Mama Clubs, UGEM, Georgetown University, Futures Group, Catholic Relief Services, University of Maryland School of Medicine et cetera, accords it’s a unique and best placed position to manage the national activity.