Empowering Communities to Promote Better Health through Health Literacy and Service delivery in Koboko District

Koboko District is located at the extreme Northwestern part of Uganda, about 535 km from Kampala. Koboko District has a population of about 223,000 (UBOS, 2015). The District is bordered by the Republic of South Sudan (RSS) to the North and The Democratic Republic of Congo (RDC) to the West. Whereas, the district is strategically located sharing two international boundaries hence business opportunities, it also has challenges of a high disease burden because of the cross-border movements by people with similar population characteristics and the business community. The health camp was conducted based on the fact that low health literacy is one of the major challenges affecting vulnerable communities in Uganda and this has impacted on their health seeking behavior, diagnosis and treatment, leading to increased healthcare costs and mortality.

On June 23th to 25th 2016, Public Health Ambassadors Uganda (PHAU) in partnership with Lugei Health Group, International Health Sciences University, Cipla - Quality Chemicals Industries and Ministry of Health conducted a two day Medical Health Camp at Koboko Municipality Boma Grounds in Koboko District. The health camp was purposed to increase health literacy among general population in Koboko District so as to improve their health seeking behavior and better health outcomes.

The specific objectives of the health camp included;

  •  To dialogue with the communities on their role in promoting health literacy in their communities.
  • To raise awareness on substandard and counterfeit medicines
  • To promote screening and testing for communicable diseases such as HIV, Hepatitis B & C virus and other STIs.
  • To carry out general clinical assessment including doing Body Mass Index, measuring Blood Pressure among others.  

 

Below are services that were offered and these included;

  • Free Health education on Hepatitis B and C
  • Menstruation Hygiene and Health Management
  • Dental health education
  • Distribution of IEC materials on Hepatitis B, C and other infectious diseases
  • Small group health dialogues
  • Free HIV counselling and testing services
  • Hepatitis B & C counselling and testing services
  • General clinical assessment including Body Mass Index, Blood Pressure 

      

PHAU supported Lugei Health Group to stage community activations using community led flash mobs to create awareness and sensitize the residents of Koboko on the negative effects of Hepatitis B and C and other infectious diseases as well as mobilising the road users on how to seek free testing services. 

      

A total of 756 people screened for both Hepatitis B and C with a high registration of 407 women compared to the 349 male. However, the health camp was overwhelmed with the big turn up where by so many people turned for services but not all of them accessed services because the two days were not sufficient. People who tested positive are referred to Arua Regional Referral Hospital for further tests before enrolment on treatment.

 

Lessons Learned

  • There is an opportunity for Hepatitis-B programming in Koboko district considering the statistics above. This could include Hepatitis-B prevention, treatment, care and support services.
  • Initially the focus was on Hepatitis B, but evidence from the screening results revealed that Hepatitis prevalence is high in Koboko District. This means there is an opportunity for Water, Hygiene and Sanitation programming in the District, because Hepatitis –C is purely a WASH issue.
  • People in the community respond better to health camps and outreaches where services are moved closer to them than the facilities where they face a lot of challenges when accessing health services.

 

Recommendations

  • Need to establish a treatment centre with support from partners such as Quality Chemicals Industries.
  • This medical camp should be an annual event so that more people can access services
  • Need for technical capacity building through trainings, this is because not many healthcare workers understand Hepatitis B programming. 

      

 

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