Monday April 21 2014

How bicycles have improved access to healthcare


By Roland D. Nasasira

For Lucy Aciro, a 35-year-old mother from Mucwini central village in Yepa parish, in Kitgum District, accessing treatment at the health facility has always been a big challenge. Part of the problem is the distance from her home to the facility. As a result, she has not benefited from services of Village Health Teams (VHTs)who go around the communities to offer maternal health care services to women.

Easing the work
But now with a new programme underway in her village where the VHTs have been given bicycles to ease their work under World Vision Uganda’s Maternal Newborn and Child Health project, Aciro is optimistic she will benefit from the available healthcare services and advise that the VHTs will offer.

The project, which runs up to 2016 aims to improve maternal, newborn and child health in Lagoro and Mucwini sub counties in Kitgum District. “The strategy is on addressing causes of under-nutrition in pregnant and lactating mothers and improving access to and increasing utilisation of maternity care services by pregnant women and mothers of newborn infants,” says Anita Komukama, the project officer in charge of operations, documentation and research at World Vision Uganda.

Like Aciro, 19-year-old Brenda Acayo, also from Yepa parish says the bicycles will ease transportation of mothers to health facilities, where they previously had to walk long distances. “Community mobilisation for outreaches will also become easy as the VHTs will be able to reach the farthest of every home, thereby creating awareness,” says Acayo.

Making a difference
Andrew Tumuhameho, the project’s monitoring and evaluation officer explains how the bicycles will make a difference: “The VHTs look at issues such as access to safe drinking water, sanitation hygiene and latrine coverage in the homes.”

He says since VHTs usually spend at least 30 minutes in every homestead, it would take them longer time to cover a wide range of households without proper means of transport. Tumuhameho says even though the government has distributed some bicycles to the VHT project, not all of them have benefited and therefore this latest donation aims to cover the gap and ensure that more mothers are reached.