BACKGROUND: The Ugandan National Health System, primarily organized by the Ministry of Health, utilizes community health workers which are structured as Village Health Teams (VHTs). Omni Med, a Boston-based NGO, works with the Ministry of Health to train and mobilize VHTs in the Mukono District.
OBJECTIVES: Understanding how VHTs are empowered to improve health in their communities, educating VHTs in health and medicine, mobilizing VHTs by providing motivation and oversight, and understanding VHT-member experiences through focus groups.
METHODS: Omni Med works with community chairpersons to organize VHT elections. Subsequently, Omni Med holds a training course on health topics like hygiene and malaria prevention and on practical topics like record-keeping and coordination within the broader National Health System structure. Omni Med conducts focus groups, performance reviews, and continuing education programs to help sustain the VHT’s impact.
RESULTS : Many VHT members are dedicated and capable to apply their health knowledge and perform their responsibilities. They eagerly participate in continuing education and initiatives like community-wide vaccination days. They are accepted and valued by their communities. Members report barriers to effectiveness in limited transportation, time, and mobile communications.
CONCLUSIONS : As millions suffer preventable morbidity and mortality, there is opportunity to thwart these human rights violations by building an infrastructure for health, that is, the systems necessary for hygienic lifestyles and access to healthcare in times of illness. Uganda's VHT model carried out by Omni Med's training and mobilization efforts is an effective starting point for building infrastructure for health in underdeveloped regions. Though stunted economic and infrastructural development remains the overarching barrier to healthcare access, VHTs are indispensable conduits for better health in communities that would be otherwise cut off. It cannot be ignored, however, that VHT programs cannot long exist without new measures for permanent incentive, management, and coordination.
Mays, Daniel C., "Infrastructure for Health: Empowering Village Health Teams in Uganda" (2013). GW Research Days 2013. Paper 11.