THE VILLAGE HEALTH TEAM (VHT)

The village health team (VHT) program in Uganda was initiated by the Ministry of Health in 2001 to address the dire shortage of health care in rural area of Uganda. Less than half the population has access to health facilities. As such, the Ministry initiated a program in which local villagers are elected by their peers to become VHTs with three primary responsibilities: bringing preventive health measures to local villagers; referring sick patients to nearest health facilities, and tracking health data for the Ministry. In recent years, the Ministry added a fourth role: treating the three leading killers of kids in Uganda: pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria. VHTs volunteer their time, and each is responsible for 30-60 households. VHTs also open up areas for larger scale governmental administered programs like vaccination and ITN campaigns, family health days, cookstove constructions, and other public health ventures. Since 2009, Omni Med has evolved an innovative approach in which US health volunteers work with a Ugandan staff of 10 and local health providers to train and maintain these VHTs. All VHTs are trained through a standardized 5 day training 

program, in which local Ugandans provide most of the training, and the rest provided by US health providers. All VHTs are then brought together quarterly for updates.

 

As of 2017, Omni Med has successfully trained 1250 community health workers throughout Mukono District, Uganda. So far, there have been over 225,000 people helped due to their work and efforts in the community. The training program has three phases:

1. Mobilization: involves selecting which villages to train, meeting with the LC1s, selecting the training site, identifying and meeting with topic presenters, designing the training schedule, delivering the invitations and training schedules, and purchasing training supplies and printing materials. Use this sheet as a guide for accomplishing each of these tasks.

2. Training: main purpose is to transfer the knowledge and skills VHT Members will need to address their community’s health concerns. Accordingly, the VHT Training Manual is used as the main resource. Properly monitoring the training’s progress is necessary for a successful training and portraying the large amount of information.

VHT Members taught the following:

  • Specific village health terms

  • Concepts of VHTs

  • Community Mobilization & Empowerment

  • Monitoring Villages

  • Record Keeping

  • Home Visits

  • VHT Maintenance Tasks

  • Child Growth & Development

  • Lung Infections

  • Sexual & Reproductive Health

  • Environmental Health

3. Follow Up & Maintenance: addresses the areas of support that help VHT Members in their new role. Although the training is complete, there are several other program areas that will need strengthening, including fostering linkages with local health centers, electing leadership positions, creating quarterly reports, conducting community health talks, and holding meetings to share ideas and address challenges. These tasks center on organizing the VHT Members, integrating them into the larger health system, and contributing to a sense of productivity, respect, and trust within the community.

Omni Med continues to keep an updated record of trained VHTs per region with contact information while distributing follow-up workshops.

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