experts want Village Health Teams (VHTs) to educate and screen people for
researchers at Makerere University, they have established that the VHTs can
help with the challenge that many people present late to care greatly affecting
In a study spanning over eight years in which they trained VHTs to deliver key
prevention and control information and then weighed later to see if their
interventions yielded, Dr. Geoffrey Musinguzi a researcher based at the School
of Public Health says they registered a reduction in key risk factors including
smoking, physical inactivity, and poor nutrition among others.
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cardiovascular diseases”. //
Other risk factors where they saw significant changes were with salt intake,
weight loss, and consulting of traditional healers for their hypertension and
other Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).
was conducted in Buikwe and Mukono districts. While they had done an earlier
study in 2012 where they found a high prevalence of diseases of the heart and
the blood vessels in these areas, they went back in 2017 to conduct a baseline
study from which they based to design interventions that they thought would
help for especially prevention and early detection.
says that they came up with a community package involving among others teaching
VHTs and developing tools such as a talking T-shirt which teams would use to
deliver prevention messages.
We conducted community…
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the health facility”. //
according to the Ministry of Health categorization, VHTs are supposed to mainly
help with basic health issues like mosquito net distribution, giving
information on contraceptive use, and nutrition.
Now, with the study, Musinguzi says general knowledge about Cardiovascular
diseases in the community increased from 32% at baseline to 70% and when they
evaluated the training feedback, they found only 1% of the families visited rejected
services of VHTs.
were taught to detect and refer patients who need medical interventions to
Even at the health facility level, although there have been warning of the
rising crisis of NCDs, with the burden estimated at over 20% prevalence,
Musinguzi says that there has been a missed opportunity at especially at the
outpatient department whereby people are not screened for cardiovascular
diseases risk factors.
///Cue in:” The potentially missed…
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to identify”. //
Mutungi, the Commissioner NCDs in the Ministry of Health says that the data
that community health workers can screen and do home visits comes at a good time
when they are moving to adopt evidence-based programming for interventions into
//Cue in:” We are in evidence…
Cue out: ...of cardiovascular diseases”. //
He says generally, the Ministry is currently evaluating how they can better
utilize VHTs considering their role during the COVID-19 pandemic, although he
notes they were not yet sure of what role they can play in the NCDs crisis.
Meanwhile, as the ministry considers this VHTs proposal, the Fatumah Ndisaba
the Mukono Resident District Commissioner (RDC) says that issues of their
remuneration should be brainstormed since currently they don’t get a salary but
depend on projects and donors for small unreliable facilitation.
It should be
noted that since 2014, Uganda hasn’t done a comprehensive survey to determine
the exact nationwide prevalence of NCDs but Mutungi says they use a proxy of
hypertension which is estimated at 24.3%.