Edisa Natukunda is a 29-year-old woman with eight biological children, including a set of twins. We visited her home in Rwensenene in western Uganda in the company of her local village health team (VHT) member, Albert.

Edisa welcomes us to her home where she is seated on a small wooden bed in her living room. It is immediately evident that Edisa is a devoted mother; she lovingly cradles one of the month-old twins as the other lies asleep by her side. Their big sister, who is only two years old, has droopy eyes from a big meal and she eventually dozes off to sleep on my lap.

As we begin to talk about the health situation in her home, the five older siblings walk into the house from school and settle next to their mother on the little bed. She welcomes each of them and the two older ones help her with the twins who are now both awake. With a spare set of hands, she takes us around her home to show us her home’s hygiene and food safety.

Edisa’s children are certain not to lack food from their parents’ hard work. The outdoor kitchen is clean and all the washed utensils are drying out on a locally made rack.

Edisa is showing us these aspects of her household because she wants to show how she has benefited from the guidance of Albert who, as a part of Malaria Consortium’s iCCM+ project, has been trained as a community health worker providing key community-level services. As a part of regular pre and postnatal house visits to mothers like Edisa, Albert has been trained to offer guidance on maternal and newborn care; nutrition; water, sanitation and hygiene; and how the mother can protect herself and her child from malaria.

The overall aim of the project is to support Uganda’s Ministry of Health to strengthen access to health services for children and to deliver integrated services that consider maternal and child survival. This includes equipping households and schools with handwashing facilities, training community health workers, and integrating health data from small communities into the national Health Management Information System to better inform the health authorities.

Edisa has nothing but praise for the skills and knowledge Albert has brought to her and her household.

“Albert has been a hero to my family and to me especially during my recent pregnancy. I was feeling sick one day when he came home during one of his monthly home visits to check on the status of our home hygiene and food safety. He asked me some questions and he then asked my husband to take me to Kasenda HCII where they confirmed my pregnancy; this was my seventh pregnancy. He passed by the next day and we shared the good news with him; he later brought for me some capsules to swallow one each day. He told us that they were nutritional supplies which are good for me and the baby. He also encouraged me to go to the hospital each month or whenever I felt unwell. The health workers were happy with me because I completed all the required eight visits to the health facility.

“Last month, I gave birth to twin girls. This pregnancy was not like any of the earlier pregnancies; I was feeling strong until the last day and I was able to conduct my daily chores. I even made it to the health facility for nine visits. I gave birth at the health facility and my children were immunised the next day before we went home. This time around my breast milk is a lot and the two girls have enough milk which was not the case for the other children.”

“Albert works very well with the health workers at the facility where I gave birth so there is the link between him and them, I think it is because of him that the midwives were very friendly. I also felt very contented with all the care I received. Albert also came to visit us at home when we returned from the hospital the next day.”

“I would like to thank Malaria Consortium who have supported Albert. Not only did he support me during the pregnancy, but he also brought for my two other children who are not yet in school medicine for worms and vitamin A. The older ones had received the same from their school. Now they are all looking healthy and are performing well in school. He has also shown my husband how to construct and repair the tap that we put next to the pit latrine.”

Find out more about the iCCM+ project in our project brief, available here.

Cover image: Malaria Consortium trainers train new community health workers

Story recorded in Rwensenene village, Kasenda sub county- Kabarole by Stella Bakeera.

Learn more about Malaria Consortium’s recent work on iCCM in Uganda in the film below, detailing the work of iCCM+’s predecessor project, iCCM-MaCS.