By Goodluck Musinguzi
Village Health Teams (VHTs) were established by the Ministry of Health to empower communities to take part in the decisions that affect their health; mobilize communities for health programs, and strengthen the delivery of health services at house-hold level.
When Covid19 pandemic emerged in 2020 spreading like wildfire across the Globe, Ministry of Health remobilized its ground “troops” the Village Health Teams to join the fight that has persisted.
Bonny Natukunda Elubu ,the Senior Health Communicator and Coordinator of Village Health Teams in Wakiso District says the Ministry of Health with implementing partners gave basics on Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
“Covid19 was a new disease with less facts about it, the Ministry of Health had implemented a model of Village Health Teams which is admired across the Globe. We have 720 villages in Wakiso district being served by 4 VHTs who are trained in conducting surveillance, basic knowledge of Covid19 and be able to refer Covid19 suspects”, said Bonny Natukunda Elubu
Village Health teams have continued to sensitize Communities on Covid19 prevention. At the same time they have been oriented on Home Based Care for Covid19 patients.
Those trained are involved in the follow up of the patients on Home based care a move that helped to decongest hospitals and clinics in the second wave that locked Uganda for two months.
She says the VHT are involved in treating of children under 5 years, something that has greatly reduced the Child Mortality (Death) and has highly led to less congestion in health facilities.
“They further carry out home visiting and carry out sensitization in the different communities. Malaria in children under 5 years in Wakiso district has largely reduced due to the VHT Strategy.
The Primary Health Care principle recognizes that health services should be accessible, cost-effective, tailored to local needs, characterized by inter – sectoral co-operation and delivered with the participation of the people.
It is envisaged that the VHT strategy will enable the realization the Alma Ata Declaration, and the recent 2008 Ouagadougou Declaration on Primary Health Care and Health Systems in Africa to which Uganda subscribes.
In Uganda, over 75% of the diseases are preventable if only people changed and adopted appropriate and well known behaviors geared towards better health.
Positive behaviors focusing on personal hygiene, sanitation, nutrition, sexual practices among others would improve the wellbeing of many people and thus avert the high morbidity and mortality due to preventable diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, upper respiratory infections, HIV/AIDS and childhood vaccine preventable diseases.