To celebrate World Malaria Day, Malaria Consortium is highlighting the important work of community health workers around sub-Saharan Africa who are diagnosing, treating and referring malaria in children; saving time and lives.
Our new film, “Making community health workers part of the public health solution” shows the impact CHWs, locally known as Village Health Team members (VHTs) have had in Uganda since their introduction in 2009. Malaria Consortium has been supporting the Ministry of Health in Uganda to train and equip VHTs to diagnose and treat malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea at community level to drastically reduce the number of children dying from these preventable and treatable conditions. This programme is known as integrated community case management (iCCM)
When the iCCM programme was introduced, Malaria Consortium visited a few caregivers, health facility workers and VHTs and found the devastating effect distance and time can have on accessing appropriate care. Malaria Consortium spoke to mothers who could not afford the cost of transport to reach the nearest health facility, often meaning that children would not be seen until they were very sick. These films can be watched on our website.
This new film follows caregivers, VHTs, health facility workers and District authorities who recount how life was and how it has changed since the introduction of the iCCM programme in their areas. We hear how VHTs have improved the lives of the people in their communities, making sure children are receiving timely and appropriate care.
When visiting Ruth Nakigude in March 2014, a mother who lost her three year old son while trying to get to the health facility as quickly as possible, she said "children used to die a lot. All the time we were burying them.” There are countless stories like Ruth's in Uganda, where distance and lack of money mean young children can die from treatable illnesses such as diarrhoea, pneumonia and malaria.
But iCCM is having an impact; we are seeing more and more stories of hope from caregivers across the country who have access to a VHT. Malaria Consortium’s new film captures a few of these stories.
“Ever since we got our CHWs, they give us happiness" says Ruth, smiling "If they leave, I am sure we will no longer have happiness"