KAMPALA – Stakeholders in the health sector have called upon the government to empower Community Health Workers (CHWs) in a bid to empower them to address health issues from the grassroot level.
The call was made in a workshop that was organized at Fairway Hotel in Kampala on Monday by the Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum (UYAHF) in partnership with PATH Uganda, Population Action International, and Ministry of Health on the strategies about the promotion of community participation in Uganda’s Primary Health Care services.
Speaking at the event, Dr.Jonathan Wangisi, the District Health Officer for Mbale, said as the government, they know that they are obliged to deliver quality universal services to the people but they lack resources to enable them reach everyone.
He explained that the government has to be complemented by partners like faith based NGOs to achieve this goal of delivering services where they cannot reach.
Mr Wangisi shared that the issues that have affected their performance are for example the challenges with VHTs and that is why the government is in the final stages of rolling out Community Health Workers to help VHTs.
“Government can’t run the health arena alone. We have partners and through them, we can achieve universal coverage. Village Health Teams and peer educators are poorly facilitated to implement the Primary Health Care program,” he shared.
Wangisi added that moving forward, they are looking at pooling resources to implement health insurance as this will help the marginalized people to be taken care of without having to dig deep in their pockets.
He explained that the “Our coverage in terms of the health sector is about 80% of the population with people staying in a radius of 5Km range. However, there are sub -counties and other administrative units which don’t have even a single government health facility and this makes it difficult to implement the Primary Health Care program,”Wangisi said.
Mr Patrick Mwesigye, the Team Leader at Uganda Youth and Adolescent Health Forum (UYAHF) said that improving community participation in improving Primary Health Care is a vital aspect since community participation is a key pillar in improving Community Health Care.
“Uganda’s health care starts from VHTs and key aspects like capacity building of the communities. About 48% of the health sector budget is going into procuring Primary Health Care services that are essential. PHC is about empowering people to prevent diseases without first waiting for health experts. We believe that we must have a strong community voice so that communities can make decisions for their lower level facilities,” he said.
Mwesigye added that Civil Society Organizations should be challenged to have communities regain their health system.
According to Dr. David Musoke from the department of Disease control and Environment Health at the Makerere University School of Public Health College, special interest groups and hard-to-reach areas have not been catered for under the Primary Health Care program.
He shared that this has seen many of them lag behind in implementing the program, adding that there is a need for joint efforts for all sector players.