Community Outreach: Engeye and the Village Health Teams

By: Zohra Afzal

Photo by Biz Alexis Deeb

Engeye Health Clinic continues to work with local Village Health Teams (VHTs) in Nakateete parish. The partnership aims to establish a mutually beneficial and healthy partnership between the VHTs and the Engeye Health Clinic, while providing education and support to the community through VHT outreach. The community identifies areas of need, and we and the VHTs respond accordingly, believing that the locals are the best judge of their own needs.

Between October 2012 and January 2013 Engeye hosted four VHT training sessions and three additional community outreaches. Training sessions focused on education and empowering the VHTs to educate the community on topics ranging from reproductive health and family planning, to child health, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and HIV. To ensure interaction and maximal understanding, presentations were followed by a Q & A session, helping to address and debunk common misconceptions, taboos and myths.

There has been a good turnout for the meetings – 118 members of the community attended. Strategically, the clinic partnered with Uganda Cares to provide free HIV testing and condom distribution during these outreach programs. To date, 80 individuals have been tested through this effort, with 29 being men and 51 women. Fortunately, only one case had to be referred for further counseling and treatment.

The VHTs also play a critical role in data collection at the community level; this helps us in our health program planning. We have found, however, that since the data collection forms are typically in English, the process is not always effective. Engeye is currently arranging group and individual review sessions to ensure proper understanding of household survey report forms. A Luganda translation of the form, produced by Engeye’s public health team, has served as a helpful reference guide for VHTs.

Our ultimate goal is to obtain quarterly reports at the village and parish levels, in cooperation with the local councils. Understanding and addressing local barriers, education and health needs will result in healthier communities. Prenatal care and the proper use of Maama Kits (clean delivery kits) are areas that locals have expressed a desire to learn more.

Many thanks go to the caring and dedicated Engeye staff, along with our donors, who have made this collaboration with the Village Health Teams possible!