On October 15 2021, ACHEST in partnership with JICA Uganda and the Rotary Club of Kampala successfully hosted 5 events to mark the Global Handwashing Day(GHWD), under the theme “The future at Hand. Let us Move Forward Together.”
The colorful events were simultaneously held in the districts that are leading the implementation of Uganda’s Community Engagement Strategy(CES) for COVID-19 Response, namely: Mukono, Ngora, Busia, and Amuru.
The 5th event was held in Luweero district, in partnership with the Rotary Club of Kampala. Although not part of the CES pilot project, Rotarians have been leading the efforts and provided funding for powered bore holes and rainwater collection in Kalwanga Parish, Bututumula Sub-county to promote household hygiene in the Luweero communities.
All the five GHWD events brought together public health experts and educators, village health teams(VHTs), local leaders and residents of all ages. The highlight of the activities were the step-by-step demonstrations on why and how to properly wash their hands using soap and water to avoid needless diseases and infections such as COVID-19, diarrhea, cholera, dysentery among others.
In Luweero, the district representative Ruth Namusisi Kasule, District Health Educator, expressed enthusiasm to fully implement the CES which was launched in October 2020 by the government of Uganda.
Prof. Francis Omaswa, who is also the chairperson of the CES subcommittee on the National Taskforce for COVID-19 urged the local council leadership to form an intersectoral village committee comprising of cultural and religious leaders, parish leaders, agriculture extension staff and community development workers among others. This committee, he advised, would meet every month to talk about health and other issues affecting the people; and find local solutions to them.
“What you can’t do yourself, send it to the higher authorities. But they can only help you if you are interested to help yourselves.” said Prof. Omaswa
Emphasising the importance of Integrated people-centered Primary Health Care, Prof. Omaswa urged individuals to take responsibility for personal health.
He told participants that the government of Uganda had decided to establish VHTs in all the villages and a monthly allowance is sent to them through their district local governments. The VHTs map and number all households they visit; maintain a village health registers containing a record of the health status of members of households. They discuss and share information with the families and advocate for health-seeking behavior, home cleanliness and hygiene to ensure that the health of the people is as good as possible. This is collaboration with the public health facilities in case of referrals are needed.
At the meeting, the need for a Health Center and ambulance in the Kalwanga Parish of Butuntumula Sub-County was highlighted as a major concern as people have to trek long distances to access medical care.
At the Katoogo HCIII in Mukono, the celebrations were graced by the JICA Chief Representative in Uganda, Mr. Uchiyama Takayuki, and the Japan Ambassador to Uganda, H.E Fukuzawa Hidemoto who were both highly impressed by the work of the VHTs at community level. In his statement, JICA Chief Representative appreciated the Uganda VHT model and pledged to support Uganda in scaling out the CES pilot project and activities in all the District of Uganda while the Ambassador re-echoed JICA’s commitment to expand PHC in all the African countries to promote resilient health systems and further promote initiatives towards the realization of UHC through public private partnerships (PPPs). In addition to these, Dr. David Okello from ACHEST recognized VHTs as foot soldiers towards improving health indicators in our country and as a resource that needs to be fully utilized. The SARAYA team did just enough to train people on proper handwashing. RDC/Mukono publicly recognized and appreciated the role VHTs are playing in promoting public health in the district. She was grateful for the support given by partners.
Similar messages were echoed at the events in Ngora, Amuru and Busia districts
To read about CES, visit our database: COVIDbook_EMAIL (achest.org)