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Strengthening health systems in rural Uganda this World Health Day

 

April 7, 2022 • 3 min read

On World Health Day (7th April) 2022, GOAL is committed to ensuring that health systems in vulnerable communities are effective and resilient so that people can look forward to healthy, happy futures.

Health centers in Agago District in northern Uganda face many operational challenges. Reports of self-treatment are common, as well as; inadequate amounts of medication, low uptake of family planning services, and understaffing. This in turn affects health systems and service delivery. Local community advocates are working with health centres to rally people to adopt health-seeking behaviors for better health outcomes.

Community Dialogue

Seated under the grove of mango trees in the afternoon sun, a group of community members engage in discussion with health workers beside Kotomor Health Center in Agago district, located over 400 kilometres north of the country’s capital city Kampala. They are discussing some of these health challenges they face as a community while the health center manager, Patrick Odongkara, listens attentively, taking notes. He later explains to the gathering some of the steps being taken to address these concerns, acknowledging there is a need to work together to improve outcomes for all.

GOAL, through funding from IrishAid, facilitates community interface dialogues in 20 health facilities across Agago district. The project focus on health systems strengthening, social and behavioral change, transparency, accountability, and health emergencies.

A community dialogue session at Amyl health centre in Agago district.

Santa Adong, Local Advocate

Santa Adong, a 27-year-old mother of three, is one of the 60 GOAL-trained community advocates for the Kotomor Health Centre. Now in her second year with the initiative, Santa vowed not to look on as the health outcomes of her community deteriorated.

“Many patients had resorted to self-medication, often buying drugs from the nearby pharmacies. This was due to reported cases of inadequate treatment from some health workers. With no prescriptions from trained medical personnel, this increased our vulnerability to ill-health,” she says.

Using skills acquired from the GOAL-led People-Centered Advocacy (PCA) training, Santa engages the health centre staff together with the community in addressing some of the bottlenecks in health service delivery. This is all to ensure that health outcomes in the community improve for all.

GOAL Uganda’s Health Manager, Janet Alimo.

Shared accountability, shared success

According to Janet Alimo, GOAL Uganda’s Health Manager, the purpose of the interface dialogues is to create a platform for service providers and the community to come together. They participate in assessing the challenges that they are facing, to come up with joint solutions to address such challenges.

“Coming together promotes participation as well as accountability. The community holds the health workers accountable for the services that they provide. In turn, health workers also hold the community accountable for the services they are providing. They aim for a rise in uptake and utilisation of services.”

World Health Day is celebrated every year on the 7th of April to commemorate the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1948. On World Health Day 2022, WHO will focus global attention on the interconnectedness between the planet and our health. To learn more about the day, please visit https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-health-day/2022.