Healthy Living

Working to improve health of rural communities

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By Fred Muzaale

Posted  Monday, December 16  2013 at  02:00

For Dr Hassan Lule, 46, the winner of the 2013 global health work force award, helping rural communities to improve their health standards has been his resolve.
Because of such commitment, he has mobilised his colleagues in the medical field to sensitise locals of Butambala District about immunisation, sanitation and innovation in the water sector.

The award is from the Global Health Workforce Alliance.
The Alliance recognises governments, journalists, health workers and organisations that have excelled in contributing to improving global health around the world.

Dr Lule, who is also the Butambala District medical officer, says he derives more satisfaction working with rural communities.
“I grew up seeing how people in my district were suffering and dying because of preventable illnesses such as diarrhoea due to inadequate health awareness, medical workers and facilities, which made me, resolve to work in this rural district,” he says.
He adds: “To me, working as a health worker is a calling other than a mere job to earn an income. During the national health workers strike this year, I worked alone in the hospital for one week.”

Because of his commitment to reduce infections in the community, Dr Lule spearheaded an innovation aimed at promoting hand-hygiene among the medical staff in the district, patients and their attendants.

Promoting hygiene
“Our hospital is faced with a problem of inadequate water supply. This therefore made the observation of hand hygiene as recommended by World Health Organisation difficult for both health workers and patients resulting into high incidents of ward infections. This consequently threatened the safety of patients’ care,” he explains.
Dr Lule also partnered with Saraya East Africa, a company that manufactures hand sanitisers to provide disinfectants at a subsidised fee.

Dr Lule says the disinfectant (hand-rub) that is made from mixing alcohol and other chemicals was placed at strategic points of the hospital such as corridors, entrance of toilets and next to patient beds.

Health workers on the other hand were provided with bottled sanitisers, which they carried along in their pockets and used whenever they were on duty.
This innovation, he says, had led to a reduction of acute diarrhoea at the paediatric ward.