With the introduction of Family Health Days, a partnership among UNICEF, the government and faith-based organizations, Ugandans can now receive the healthcare and attention they need.
Yusuf Atef and Anne Lydia Sekandi
KABAROLE, Uganda, 4 March 2013 – Priscilla Tusima, a mother of two, used to worry a lot about her children falling sick with diarrhoea, malaria and other diseases. As her family lives in a remote area in western Uganda, where health facilities are lacking, she found it hard to access basic medical care.
UNICEF reports on Family Health Days, an initiative that provides routine medical services to Ugandan families by bringing the clinics to them. Watch in RealPlayer
With the introduction of Family Health Days, however, Priscilla and her family can now receive the care and attention they need.
Providing integrated services
UNICEF Uganda, in partnership with the Ministry of Health and faith-based organizations, has instituted Family Health Days, during which an integrated package of health interventions is offered at various places of worship for free.
“I heard on the radio that there are Family Health Days which offer services in the mosque and churches,” says Ms. Tusima. “That is why I decided to come to bring my children so they can be immunized and checked.”
Targeting hardship areas
Family Health Days are organized every four months. They are held after religious services on Fridays and Sundays.
They target the general population in hardship areas, where access to healthcare is limited. Services offered range from immunization and birth registration of children under 5 years old to free antenatal care for mothers, deworming and blood pressure checks for fathers accompanying their spouses.
Counselling and education on leading healthy lifestyles are also offered to the youth.
District Health Officer for Kabarole Dr. Richard Mugahi discusses the critical role of the participating faith-based organizations. “Religious leaders play an important role in mobilizing communities to access medical services. After prayers in church or the mosques, families receive routine services like immunization, which they could have missed.”
Through Family Health Days, traditional barriers to healthcare, such as long distances, have been eliminated. Communities are mobilized through radio announcements and awareness activities prior to the actual campaign days.
The medical services provided, which are attracting large numbers of participants, are truly bringing much-needed relief and improving the lives of many across the country.