Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH) in partnership with Ministry of Health (MoH) and Nottingham Trent University (NTU), with support from the UK Department for International Development (DFID), through Tropical Health and Educational Trust (THET) organized a half-day stakeholders’ workshop on community health at Piato restaurant. The focus of the workshop which took place on September 5th, 2018 was how to strengthen and sustain national community health programmes for improving human resources for health.

In her opening remarks, Dr. Esther Buregyeya (pictured above),   Chair, Department of Disease Control and Environmental Health – DCEH, who represented the Dean of MakSPH, welcomed participants to the workshop, thanking the organizers for such a timely event. She urged the implementers of community health programmes to consider increasing the range of services offered to cover more than one intervention, adding that even Tuberculosis, and other diseases, as well as other public health issues, needed addressing. “An integrated approach to health interventions is the way to go for community health”, she revealed. Dr Buregyeya asked the audience to be as engaging as possible.

Dr. Linda Gibson who represented Nottingham Trent University, UK, thanked the Uganda team for spearheading the organisation of the meeting. She revealed that the UK also had community challenges, though these are of a different scale and kind, attributing this dissimilarity to the level of technological involvement in the health sector among other differences.

Appreciating Dr. David Musoke, from DCEH at MakSPH for regularly sending updates from the field, Dr. Gibson (pictured above) urged MakSPH and NTU to continually work together and learn from each other about health systems as stakeholders. She also advised the audience to look at mechanisms for making the work more sustainable. “I am looking to these discussions to inform our future work”, she ended.

 

Dr. David Musoke, the Principal Investigator (PI) of the Community Health Workers’ project at MakSPH highlighted some of the activities that had been carried out.

“We have been enhancing the performance of Community Health Workers (CHWs) in Wakiso district through training, supervision and motivation. Motivation has been achieved through the provision of non – financial incentives such as t-shirts, gumboots, umbrellas, solar equipment as well as the provision of motorcycles for transportation. Initially, we thought motorcycles were a small incentive but we soon realized that it is a very important tool for supporting general activities e.g. distributing mosquito nets, taking nurses for vaccinations, and so many other things”, said Dr. Musoke (pictured above). He also observed that success in doing community health work was impossible without strong stakeholder engagement. “It is very very important to engage them, and usually leads to achieving our community goals”, he stressed. He thanked the community of Wakiso for embracing the work they are doing, and the village health teams (VHTs) present for their selfless service, including timely submission of reports, whenever called upon among other activities. Dr. Musoke also revealed that the project had been supporting the community for close to 10 years, and had now gone beyond just VHT services to providing training, and other logistics. He thanked partners for the work done in ensuring that this workshop was conducted, and NTU for the successful partnership in enhancing community health for many years.

A group session split the audience into three groups to deliberate on the experiences of working with communities on health improvement, how to support CHWs to perform better in health service delivery and leveraging resources to sustain these programme on a national level.

Participants in the workshop engaged in a group session. Extreme left is Dr David Musoke, the PI

In responding to concerns raised during the workshop, Dr Tabley Bakyayita (pictured above), the Assistant Commissioner – Health Education and Promotion in the Ministry of Health, assured the meeting that the Community Health Extension Workers (CHEWs) were not replacing Village Health Teams (VHTs) much to the relief of the audience, elucidating that CHEWs would be operating at parish level, as opposed to VHTs who assist in health interventions at village level. “CHEWs and VHTs will play complementary roles, not one replacing another, he revealed, adding that the idea of CHEWs came from a study done by partners, which recommended having them as important to community health. “VHTs were introduced more as a Health Centre I; a community linkage; a volunteer from that community, who is accepted in that community, and ready to volunteer free time”, he explained. He also thanked partners for engaging the community in this way, to address what was a glaring need; thanked MakSPH and particularly Dr Musoke for his vision and rich input in running this project. He also recognized the various stakeholders present for their role in ensuring the survival of the VHT initiative before closing the workshop.

Other stakeholders represented included BRAC Uganda, World Vision Uganda, Rights - ECLiving Goods, Amref Health Africa, Health Child Uganda, FHI360 / APC, WellShare International, The AIDS Support Organisation (TASO), Management Sciences for Health, Save the Children, Action for Community Development (ACODEV), Mildmay Uganda, Wakiso district local government.

Participants at the workshop

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