Village Health Teams: Linking Communities to Care

Village Health Teams: Linking Communities to Care

Ezekiel Kyasesa, village health team coordinator in western Uganda. {Photo credit: Margaret Hartley/MSH.}Photo credit: Margaret Hartley/MSH.

Ezekiel Kyasesa is a village health team coordinator and supervisor in Kasese District, western Uganda. He supports 11 villages, 90 parishes, and 2 health centers.

Ezekiel has been working in community health for a few years, but only on a small scale. A year ago, he was selected to attend a training provided by STRIDES for Family Health to learn new family planning, child survival, and reproductive health information and the skills to become a village health team member. He was then nominated by his peers to become the coordinator and supervisor.

Now Ezekiel is educated and has the skills to go out to the communities and talk to people about the benefits of going to the health center for a range of services. The village health teams are a crucial link to sharing knowledge and information between the clinics and the communities.

Ezekiel and his village health team visit 10 households two days each week (20 visits per team member each week). He explained that they discuss with the mothers --- the key person to a healthy family --- four topics:

  1. The benefits of going to health units for services and what services are offered at each facility
  2. How to plan for a healthy family
  3. Sanitation improvements and recommendations
  4. The importance and availability of antenatal care

Ezekiel has seen the change in his community.

Before, very few people showed up; now villagers appreciate the program and people are coming to the health centers.

When I visited Bikone health center II, there were over 40 mothers with their children at the health center to receive immunizations for their kids. Ezekiel and the village health team members used the opportunity to educate mothers on nutrition and family planning options with a health education activity and discussion.

Now he explains, “It’s changed; we are the connection between the communities and health center. It had been missing, but now is strong.”

Margaret Hartley, knowledge exchange associate at MSH, was awarded the Gadue-Niebling-Urdaneta (GNU) Memorial Fellowship. She traveled to Uganda for four weeks, visiting local health centers and NGOs to meet with organizations MSH serves.

Editor’s note: MSH established the Gadue-Niebling-Urdaneta (GNU) Memorial Fund in memory of Cristi Gadue, Amy Lynn Niebling, and Carmen Urdaneta, to further the work to which these remarkable women dedicated their lives. Each year, the GNU Fellowship provides two MSH employees based in the US and globally with an international public health opportunity at another MSH location.