Reaching a whole community - strengthening the Mbale health system
18 July 2011 London, 18 July 2011: Malaria Consortium is delighted to announce the start of a new project in Mbale, eastern Uganda with the support of Comic Relief to support and improve the management of malaria in the district.
Malaria is the most common cause of death in Mbale for children and adults, accounting for over 2,000 hospital admissions a year and over 30 percent of all admissions in the district.
The overall aim of the new project is to reduce deaths from malaria, by improving the care that children with malaria and other severe childhood illnesses receive within the health system from community through the levels of the health system. Through the project’s activities it is expected that over 250,000 children under five with fever will benefit from improved health care through the project.
Village health teams (VHTs) in the district have not had much support in the past and the lower level health facilities are often weak despite the existence of a local referral hospital. For the community systems to function to a high quality, a strong and well-supported health facility is vital and will increase the level of support and supervision VHTs receive. The project will strengthen the health facility network which which in turn will support the VHTs that is key for the future of health care in the region.
On the one hand a higher quality of care and planning at the health centre and hospital levels will be supported through increased attention to supply chain management and budgeting. On the other, community level systems will be linked more closely to facility-based health care, thereby increasing the quality of VHT referrals to the health facility as well as post-referral follow up.
Malaria Consortium will work closely with the Ministry of Health district structure in Mbale, the District Health Team and the Mbale Regional Referral Hospital. By working together the project intends to ensure facilities, equipment and supplies are available and reliable. This will include the provision of missing basic equipment, drugs and supplies for severe malaria management to health facilities and the regional hospital. The project will provide hands on support to the supply chain management for essential drugs and diagnostic equipment.
Malaria Consortium believes this project will bring about some substantial changes and improvements in the district. There will be a stronger referral system through changes to the system and VHTs will have a clearer and more effective role. Health workers will have the necessary tools to diagnose and treat malaria and other childhood illnesses coming to them at all times. Changes in health worker perception and the overall operating environment will lead to health workers’ practices in case management of severe childhood illnesses and malaria to improve in line with latest best practices.
This project will make a huge difference to the lives of children and adults in Mbale where so many still die from malaria. A unified health system strengthening approach, in which Malaria Consortium has a great deal of experience, will help improve follow through on referral advice and build trust in the system, as well as increase the reach of VHTs in the community through support and supervision.
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