THE DR. DEO SEKIMPI VHT MAINTENANCE
The Dr Deo Sekimpi Project was founded in 2015 following a model advocated by our good friend and colleague, Dr. Deo Sekimpi. (See his story on the Research Partner Page.) While VHTs throughout the country undergo initial training, they rarely receive follow up training and often go long periods of time between when their skills are called upon. In this program, we have evolved a program in which we regularly bring VHTs together for additional health education training, bring them to local health centers to volunteer, conduct home visits with them in their villages while handing out laminated sheets (in the local language with pictures) that depict 12 life-saving preventive health measures, bring all VHTs in an area together (the gathering), and elect local leaders in each parish and subcounty. Dr Sekimpi, in addition to a sizable medical literature, has long advocated for VHTs having supervision and connection to the local the local health centers. "They must feel they are a part of Uganda's Health Care System." That has not been the case traditionally in Mukono. This project is intended to incentivize and motivate VHTs to keep doing this helpful work in communities over time. The program has 5 components:
1. VHT Leadership: We have held elections to establish VHT leaders in every village, parish and district. Mukono is large enough to require two VHT leaders for the 7 sub counties which we work in. As such, starting in 2015, we held elections throughout 7 sub counties Mukono and now have elected VHT Supervisors in every parish.The leadership model is designed to allow information flows to and from the communities, us and the health system. In 2017, we expanded into Nakisunga sub county.
2. VHT Vounteering: (at Kojja and other regional Health Centers) We have used VHT referrals to get patients in to be seen faster, and bring VHT and hospital staff closer together within the same system. It also lets villagers know that VHTs are valued by the health system.
3. VHT Gathering: We have found it important to bring all VHTs in a region together to keep them engaged and have local and regional leaders express strong support for the work they do.
4. Quarterly Meeting: The quarterly meetings keep the VHTs motivated, allow them to share challenges and ideas, and remind them of how important their work is. During quarterly meetings staff and/ or volunteers present specific health topics as well, most developed by our volunteers.
5. Home Visits: VHTs find value in support from our staff and volunteers, which enhances their legitimacy among their neighbors, and, likely, in their own eyes. Our staff and the VHTs together review life saving preventive health measures in laminated sheets in the local language. This lasting reference sheet serves as a reminder later on; we have distributed several thousand through the years.
VHT Focus Groups
VHT Quarterly Meetings
View the prompts distributed to households: