Medics make a difference in Mbale
In February 2019 a team of 10 medics, mostly from South Wales, visited Mbale to meet with PONT’s health project partners and train some of our volunteer healthworkers on how to recognise common diseases in their communities. The team included GPs, consultants, nurses, students and healthcare assistants.
They began their trip by holding meetings with the District Health Officers of the 4 districts where PONT supports projects – Mbale, Manafwa, Bududa and Namasindwa – and the leaders of the 8 local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) we work with. Between them these 8 organisations have trained and now manage over 1,200 Village Health Team workers who provide health care to their villages on a voluntary basis. Some of the NGOs reported that 90% of the volunteers they originally trained over a decade ago are still working with them, despite all the challenges they face.
Last year we worked with our Mbale health partners to implement a new devolved management model where each NGO is directly funded by PONT through our partners Mbale Coalition Against Poverty to manage, train, co-ordinate, monitor and report on their own group of voluntary health workers. They were all enthusiastic about this. However in addition to local training, the medical knowledge and training experience of UK medical volunteers remains very welcome!
The team spent the next 4 days delivering update training in the 4 districts of Mbale, Manafwa, Bududa and Namasindwa. In total over 700 village health workers were given training in small groups.
Some of the healthworkers shared their stories.
The health workers have had a firm foundation in training on infectious diseases such as malaria, HIV, diarrhoea and so on so the emphasis this time was on non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, malnutrition and on mental health. This was very well received.
While the February team were able to train around 700 healthworkers, there are around 500 volunteer healthworkers who have not had any update training for some time, so we are raising money in the Big Give Christmas Appeal to fill this gap – and to train new healthworkers for villages that currently have none.
The cost of training volunteer healthworkers is relatively low, but so that people who are mostly subsistence farmers can attend, we do need to fundraise to cover costs such as transport and basic refreshments.
With each trained volunteer reaching out to a whole village and saving countless lives, we think it is more than good value for money!