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Mukyogo residents combine resources to build health centre

By Andrew Masinde

Added 15th July 2016 12:37 PM

It was through community effort that that home was transformed into a health centre II.

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It was through community effort that that home was transformed into a health centre II.

PIC: A nurse treats patients at Mukyogo health centre II. Photos/Andrew Masinde

Muhanga town council is a rural town in Kabale district over 370km from Kampala.

About 37km from the town centre, is Mukyogo health centre II which you can only get to after driving through the multiple hills, valleys and sharp corners on the roads.

The murram road that leads to the centre is dusty and full of potholes, yet some residents say it was repaired four years ago.

 
A visit to the centre

After a five-hour drive from Kampala, it takes another hour to get to Muhanga town centre.

At Mukyogo health centre II, the Muhanga town health centre, which is a mud-and-wattle house, women were gathered in the compound.

They were seated on the grass and two medical workers in pink uniforms were administering treatment to patients.

One was immunising children and the other counselling pregnant mothers.

Inside the mud-and-wattle house was another health worker offering antenatal services to mothers.

 
Humble beginnings

Four years ago this place was someone's home and expectant mothers had to walk for seven to 11 kilometres in search of health care services.

It was through community effort that that home was transformed into a health centre II.

Constance Kyagaba, the enrolled nurse at Mukyogo health centre II who is also the in-charge, narrates how the dream of the health unit was birthed in 2011.

“It started when our community realised that many mothers were dying and losing their children while giving birth,” says Kyagaba.

Kyagaba adds that patients especially mothers would trek hills in search of medical services and sometimes would give up the quest, which led to increased infant maternal mortality in the area.

“Women had resorted to giving birth in their homes with the help of traditional birth attendants (TBAs) and often mothers lost their lives and their babies," she added.

This challenge forced residents of Buchundura parish, Kashambya sub-county Rukiga north Health Sub-District (HSD), Kabale district, in partnership with the Health Unit Management Committees (HUMCs) and members of the Citizen Voice and Action a World Vision's Primary Approach to Community Level Advocacy to start the drive to set up a health unit in the area.

By the end of that year, the community had raised sh1.5m to pay rent for a one-roomed house where they set up a temporary health unit.

 
Kyagaba who was by then the only enrolled nurse in the area offered her professional services. On May 4, 2013, the health unit was officially opened by the community members with two health workers.

"This was a dream come true.  For the first time I saw mothers visit a health unit much more often and the number went on increasing day in day out, we started with five mothers and today we serve over 100 mothers per week,” Kyagaba gladly says.

Jack Twahirwa, a mother at the health centre recounted how she almost lost her baby. She narrates that she got labour pains at around 2:00pm, but at the time there was no one at home, so she walked to a clinic which was 7km away from her home.

"I was in a lot of pain and by the time I had gone through three hills to reach the roadside to get a vehicle, the baby had been born. I was only lucky that a truck picked me up and I was rushed to Kisizi Hospital where the delivery process was completed. The baby had issues with breathing, but all was cleared by the hospital. All this was because there was no health centre in the area,” Twahirwa explains.

By the time we visited, Twahirwa was pregnant again and she had no worries because now the health centre is just half a kilometre from her home. "I now know there is a health unit nearby and the health workers are ever ready to offer quality services," she says.

 


Expansion

Kyagaba says that after the unit operating under a rented house for one year, residents also realised that the money spent on rent was rather high and so Health Unit Management Committees (HUMCs) HUMCs and Volunteer Accounting Services (CVAs) mobilised resources from the community to buy their own land and construct a health centre of their own.

"This started as a joke in one of the community meetings, but after a few months, they had collected sh5m, which they used to buy land. The land had a mud-and-wattle house that they renovated before shifting the health centre there. When the leaders at the sub-county saw the commitment of the members, they also recruited another health worker for the unit," Kyagaba says.

She adds that, in 2015, the Health Unit Management Committees and the Village Health Teams (VHTs) put up a permanent outpatient department that would further boost the services and attract more patients, so they started another drive that has seen a permanent structure erected, currently at the level of roofing.

"We hope that with the continued efforts of the community, the structure will be complete. We started with just two patients and today the number is over 50 patients per day and the numbers keeps on increasing on a daily basis, on average we serve 500 patients per week. All this is because the health services are closer to the people," she explains.

According to Arsen Nzabakurikiza, the district health educator in Kabale, the district is in a hilly area so residents face many challenges when it comes to seeking health services.

“The roads are bad. The terrain itself is not favourable for road transport and people have to walk to the health centre. These conditions force residents, especially expectant mothers to give up on the health centres and resort to giving birth in their homes. But today with the introduction of the health centre the conditions have improved," Nzabakurikiza explains.

Herbert Kakaire the Kashambya sub-county chief says many residents in Mukyogo no longer have to struggle to get health services, thanks to the collective responsibility of the community.

 

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