The ACHEST Executive Director , Prof. Francis Omaswa has urged Rotarians to advocate for Integrated People-Centered Primary Health Care(IPCPHC) as a foundation to achieve Health For All.
He made the remarks on 22 July 2021, while addressing the Rotary Club of Kampala on the“Role of citizens in fighting the pandemic; towards a healthier new normal for all.”
Prof. Omaswa, who is also the President Elect of the Rotary Club of Kampala, as well as the Chairperson of the National Community Engagement Sub-Committee for COVID-19 Response in Uganda said it is important for individuals to take personal responsibility to maintain and promote good health.
“ Only 6% of the population are born with congenital or birth defects, but most of us are born normal. Good health is inborn. When the body is short of water, we feel thirsty; when we need food we feel hungry, when it is time to sleep we feel sleepy. The challenge is for us to listen and obey our bodies. Our behavior determines our health outcomes. Maintaining inborne health is the responsibility of the individual. It starts with you and is supported by the health system when necessary,” said Prof. Omaswa
He noted that the Alma-Ata Declaration of 1978 states that people have the right and duty to participate individually and collectively in the planning and implementation of health care.
Prof. Omaswa also reaffirmed his widely acknowledged quote that “Health is Made at Home and Only repaired in Hospitals when it breaks down. Be clean, eat well and do not share accommodation with animals.” This message was constantly aired on radio in the early 2000s when Prof. Omaswa was the Director General of health Services in the Ministry of Health. In 2020, global health author Lord Nigel Crisp also launched book titled “Health is Made at Home.”
Prof. Omaswa strongly guided that health is beyond the absence of disease, but also about social wellbeing.
He added that it was important to embed health in the routine governance of society, by citing the example of the Intersectoral Collaboration for Health project which was implemented by ACHEST and the Ministry of Health in five villages of Ngora district.
Under this project, Village Health Teams (VHTs) mapped and numbered all households they visited and maintained a Village Health Register containing a record of the health status of members of households. They discussed and shared information with the families and advocate for health-seeking behavior, home cleanliness and hygiene. They worked in close collaboration with the health facilities and other sectors and actors such as cultural and religious leaders, community development and agriculture extension staff and parish chiefs. This inspired community ownership and participating– the community held a dialogue once every month to deliberate on finding local solutions to the issues affecting them.
Borrowing from this Ngora model, the government launched the National Community Engagement Strategy(CES) for COVID-19 in October, whose main goals is that all people in Uganda are aware, empowered and are participating actively in the prevention and control of COVID-19 as both a duty and a right, using existing structures, systems, and resources as much as possible.
“Every village has a village task force. We have successfully campaigned that VHTs be provided with an incentive and a village health register to help them do their work,” explained Prof. Omaswa.
The expected outcomes from CES are that: (i) Communities are mobilised, aware, trusting and taking ownership of personal and community responsibility for health and well being, (ii) Communities are actively implementing COVID-19 SOPs and pandemic suppressed and mitigated, (iii) Uganda’s health system is strengthened and better prepared to achieve SDGs and UHC long after COVID-19, and that (iv) Inter-sectoral Collaboration and the Whole of Society approach for health institutionalized in Uganda.
To expound on this, Prof. Omaswa said: “This is the way for COVID. I would like to appeal to Rotary to support this movement of Primary Health Care, starting with ourselves. It is not just about SOPs. It is about how we live. The crisis of COVID is real and people are dying. What can we do ourselves, before the government comes in? The quality of your health starts with you. It is then up to you to ensure that people in your household, workplace and community are healthy conscious.”
Compiled by Carol Natukunda, Communications Specialist, ACHEST
To read about CES click: