Community Health & Village Health Promoters
Moses is a volunteer Village Health Promoter (VHP) working together with Bwindi Community Hospital. This is a pioneering project where knowledge and skills about health are shared with every village and household in the Bwindi area. He is one of two hundred VHP’s trained by Bwindi Community Hospital, easily recognisable by his green t-shirt and his positive attitude towards helping his community. Moses represents his village of Mukongoro, which is a poor community high in the hills above the Hospital. On two or three days each month Moses attends workshops led by the Hospital to learn about different aspects of health, and takes the knowledge that he learns back to Mukongoro where he shares it with every household. He believes that improving health begins in the home, and wants everyone in his area to take their share of responsibility in improving the overall health of their family and their
Malaria has always been the biggest killer in the Bwindi area, and is easily preventable simply by sleeping under a mosquito net. Many people still suffer from diarrhoea because they don’t know enough about how to access clean water, and families go hungry because they don’t have the knowledge and skills to be able to grow and prepare a balanced diet. Many children with malnutrition and adults with tuberculosis go undiagnosed in the community because of a lack of screening.
The Hospital has trained a Village Health Promoter like Moses for every one of the 200 villages in the Bwindi area. Each month VHP’s are trained in a different activity, and they conduct teaching and screening in the community on behalf of the Hospital. To prevent malnutrition they teach every household how to grow and cook a balanced diet, and we give them a list of all the children in their village and teach them to check them every three months for signs of malnutrition, referring children to the Hospital if necessary. For each of our priority areas we have simple interventions:
Nutrition teaching sessions and malnutrition screening
Home improvement competitions
Educational sessions and mobile dispensing services
Identification and referral to Hospital
Screening and referral to Hospital
Teaching on water boiling and collection
Our community health team travels into the area surrounding the Hospital three days each week to talk with community members and teach them the skills they need in order to look after their own health and the health of their families. The community team, along with our Village Health Promoters, form the core of our prevention strategy in combating preventable diseases in the area.
Achievements1. Batwa integrated outreaches were done for Kebiremu, Bikuto and Kitahurira Batwa settlements. A total of 18 children were seen by the community nurse in these 3 settlements.
2. During April, 6 trainings for Parish Child protection committees were conducted in Bujengwe, Ngaara, Muramba, Mpungu, Buremba and Mukono Parishes. A total of 60 children’s rights advocates were trained. These are charged with the responsibility of identifying children whose rights are abused, making reports and reporting to BCH and all other authorities/stake holders who can advocate for children’s rights. The chairman of this committee makes reports that can be used for follow-up.
3. A radio program was done on Sanitation and WASH project activities in schools. There was a call for parents to support children who intend to put up hand washing facilities in homes. School children were given a holiday project of raising tippy taps in their homes and families.
4. ITN follow was done in Karangara, Bujengwe, Kyeshero and Ntungamo parishes. This was done to recover the nets given to Bataka leaders and VHPS. Parish mobilizers were charged with the responsibility of helping the community/Malaria nurse to recover these ITNS.
5. 4 static immunization sessions and daily sessions on maternity ward were done by the community Nurse. 157 children were seen by the community nurse during weekly static immunization sessions, 73 newborns received BCG and polio 0 at maternity ward. A total of 230 were immunized by the community nurse.
6. 6 WASH Project and sanitation activities were done in schools and homes. 18 schools conducted community cleaning days in Mpungu, Kayonza and Kanyantoroogo. The main activities were cleaning water sources, picking and burning polythene bags and cleaning trading centers. This played a big role in ensuring cleanliness in the communities. Monitoring of the project by a team from Volcanoes team was also done. The team was lucky enough to witness a community cleaning day by Victory P/S.
How you can help
The Hospital and community members have worked together to develop a comprehensive plan for improving the health of the community. We have an army of motivated volunteers, a computerised database that includes every household, we record carefully all of the activities that we undertake and are implementing simple evidence-based solutions to basic health problems. We even conduct a household survey every year to measure the benefits of our work. But we have no significant funding for this program, which costs around $150,000 to implement each year. Any contribution, however large or small, will go directly to helping those most in need.