The level of health care most Canadian receive is incredible. That’s a statement that is proven by our Universal Health Care system that ever citizen pays into. We are supported and taken care of when we are sick, and the modern medicine we have access to saves lives and extends our longevity. Being able to recognize this privilege does not make me feel guilty for having them but forces me to appreciate the environment and country I live in. Uganda’s health system is still in its developmental stages. Local health centres can only treat certain types of health problems and have limited resources. The system relies on volunteer health workers to visit the majority of the rural villages in hopes to catch any impending ailments among its population; especially in children and infants.
You eventually realize that a ‘work place’ or farm incident/injury more often than not results in a fatality. The remoteness of most of the villages is a huge hurdle when it comes to health care, and certainly in cases that are time sensitive. Is this to say that Ugandan’s aren’t resourceful? Of course not, they have proven may times (even while I was there) that they come together as a community to look out for one another and help each other when someone is in need. The reality is, education and on the ground resources are needed to help grow and amplify the necessary quality of care.
The first health centre we stopped at was very rural. It took us on some back roads and then back roads to those back roads. The second centre we visited was a training base for volunteer health workers or VHTs. These VHTs are organized by Healthy Child Uganda to give local villagers the basic health knowledge and skills to check on the younger population in their districts. They learn to take basic measurements for growing children, how to dispense vaccines and de-worming meds, and they learn songs to sing about how to take care of basic hygiene. All those skills are taught on top of the most vital piece of education; VHTs are taught to recognize the signs of children who are malnourished, suffering from trachoma or dysentery, and test to see if the child has inherited HIV or AIDS.
VHT workers are essential for the success for Uganda’s developing health care system and I was so lucky to be apart of a project that got to show and prove it. These volunteers put the health of their community as their top priority and it’s comforting to know that the program continues to grow and recruit more caring community leaders.
Yes, I know I’m a big whinny baby when it came to the lack of internet…I’m sure it’s much better 4 years later. One thing about being able to skip major infrastructure systems…you don’t have to rely on cable!