How joint efforts from health committees, media, and VHTs are crucial in combating community diseases

The Village Health Teams (VHTs), much like the Health Management Committees (HUMC), are creations of the Ministry of Health, and by extension, the Government of Uganda. VHTs survey communities and homes for possible dangerous diseases and, with reasonable urgency, report such information to the authorities of various health centres.

These reports undergo thorough investigation before any conclusions are drawn, including alerting higher health offices of their findings.

NTVUganda and the DailyMonitor newspaper were the first media platforms to inform Uganda and beyond about the outbreak of cholera in Mbale City’s industrial division.

The outbreak of the cholera story by NTV’s Wandeka David and Monitor’s Yahudu Kitunzu follows surveillance reports by the VHTs, who, with reasonable urgency, brought the information to the health authorities about an outbreak of a dangerous disease in their midst.

Many of these VHTs are volunteers who play a critical role in public health in our communities. During the recently publicized cholera outbreak in Mbale City, it was the VHTs who informed the health teams at the facility about the epidemic in the community, which had claimed a number of lives, according to reports from the Daily Monitor and NTV.

This information was based on medical evaluations by health experts on the epidemic. Upon receiving this information, our surveillance teams at the health facility swung into action, and the cholera outbreak in Mbale City was quickly contained.

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The media played a crucial role in amplifying the efforts of the VHTs and the Health Management Committee members, reaching far beyond Mbale City Division, which created alertness and impeded the spread of the disease in the community.

Health management committees are constituted by city councils or sub-county councils, where a team of about nine members of integrity is identified and appointed to guide the technical teams at the health centres in running the facility.

The health management committees ensure that community members have access to drugs and other related services at the health centre free of charge. Government services, especially in health centres, should remain free of charge.

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During the discharge of cholera patients at the Bukasajja Health Center, the media played a crucial role in relaying the dangers of the disease to the world and encouraged people to remain on high alert, including advising on maintaining high standards of hygiene, such as handwashing with soap and avoiding raw foods.

This health tripartite partnership from Mbale should be replicated throughout the whole country.

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The writer; Steven Masiga is the Chairman of the Bukasajja Health Centre IV’s Management Committee in Mbale City. Tel: 0782231577.


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