In many third world countries there is a dramatic shortage of doctors available for the countries' growing population. Similarly, the countries' infrastructure lacks adequate public transportation at an affordable cost. This is especially true throughout the continent of Africa. As a result, many people do not seek care until it is too late and do not receive basic medical education on how to keep their family and themselves healthy. To try to alleviate this issue many countries have begun training community health workers. In Uganda, they are called Village Health Teams (VHT). VHTs are people selected by their community to serve three functions: 1) instruct villagers in preventive medicine, 2) become local first responders and links to local health centers, and 3) to track health data for the Ministry of Health. To explore this idea VHTs are being trained within the Mukono District in Uganda to determine the effectiveness of incorporating a villager with basic health information on general health within the community. Omni Med is a program that has been in place since March 2008. In an effort to train VHTs in Uganda, members of this non-governmental organization partnered with the Ugandan Ministry of Health, the U.S. Peace Corps, and St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Boston. The goal of this partnership is to revive a previously successful program led by the Ugandan Ministry of Health and empower local communities to improve their own health and create a sustainable and measurable health impact. Volunteers from the United States are employed to carry out this effort by assisting in the education of VHTs, but local Ugandans are essential to make this program successful. The VHTs live in rural communities and are trained to provide primary and preventative health care. The hope is that by empowering local communities to improve their own health care in Uganda's Mukono District, there will be measurable impact on life expectancy, infant, and child mortality. An initial randomized controlled trial carried out by this NGO and researchers from Washington University and Makerere University found that VHTs trained in the Mukono District were able to make a measureable improvement in the health behaviors of local villagers, as long as the behaviors did not rely on externalities (such as ITNs, ORS packets, antibiotics, anti-malarials, etc.) that required villagers to spend scarce resources.
Sherman, Caitlin M. and Nichols, Anne E., "Examining the Impact of International Volunteer Service and Village Health Teams on Community Health in Uganda's Mukono District" (2013). GW Research Days 2013. Paper 4.