Training Village Health Workers to ensure access to basic community health in rural Uganda
VHWs are volunteers within their community around URF who act as an on-site basic health care provider, in a community that otherwise has no immediate access to health care.
For three weeks in August of 2012, a group of nine students from the University of Minnesota Medical School volunteered their time at the Uganda Rural Fund organization located just outside of Kyetume, 30 km West of Masaka, Uganda. Having just finished our first year of medical school, we were all excited to put our knowledge to use through putting on medical camps, training village health workers, and educating students in surrounding villages.
Village Health Workers
Village Health Workers are volunteers within their community around URF. They act as an on-site basic health care provider, in a community that otherwise has no immediate access to health care. Last year, students from the University of Minnesota, provided extensive training to the VHWs in areas such as nutrition, STIs, family planning, and cancers.
We continued this tradition and met with the VHWs on three occasions. Before our trip we also prepared lessons to provide refresher courses that they wanted to learn again. We also provided them with supplies, including a tote bag with pill organizers, a T- shirt, and basic first aid supplies.
The VHWs were very grateful for the gifts, and we were happy to provide them with the basic tools necessary to deliver basic health care.
As a part of our health education we decided to act out skits to show how patients with different illnesses would present. The Village Health Workers did a great job determining the diagnoses and they laughed at our subpar acting skills.
During our last week at URF we went to visit the homes of the Village Health Workers. We walked about a half mile to VHW Millie’s house and we arrived just as a rain and thunder storm rolled in. She happily informed us that it is said if it rains when visitors arrive; the visit brings blessings on the home. We chatted with her about life as a Village Health Worker, why she chose to become involved with the program, the common illnesses she encounters, and how we can improve the program moving forward.