A Year of Operating Okere Community Health Centre: Successes, Challenges and Future Plans
Okere, a typical village in Otuke District, Northern Uganda is severely unserved by basic medical services despite the dire need. The village’s 5,000 people are served by a government Health Centre II facility which is ill-equipped both in infrastructural terms and human resources to effectively provide the much-needed health services to the rural residents.
In 2019, we carried out a baseline survey to understand the gravity of the problem and the data were heart-wrecking. For instance, 58% of the households in the village have at least a Person Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHIV/AIDS) and 5% of the people living with HIV/AIDS in the village are children under the age of 15years.
Moreover, 85% of the rural residents had suffered from waterborne diseases such as diarrhea, dysentery, and bilharzia in the last 12 months. The data also revealed that at least 10 women had lost their lives due to birth-related complications in the past 12 months.
Appalled by these statistics, we decided to prioritize health delivery interventions as a core component of our work. And so in July 2020, we started Okere Community Health Centre to provide quality health care services to the rural population of Okere Village. Since the beginning of our operations one year ago, we have provided health care services to 2,000 community members. Up to 25 community members visit our health facility on a daily basis.
We have quintessentially provided essential health services such as testing and treatment of infectious diseases like malaria, typhoid, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs). We have also provided voluntary guidance and counseling, especially to 200 HIV/AIDS patients, in addition to conducting 250 free and voluntary HIV/AIDS testing.
To promote water and sanitation (WASH) services, we have drilled 2 boreholes and rehabilitated 1 borehole resultantly eliminating the once common challenge of waterborne disease infections in the village.
Whilst our community health Centre has become a cornerstone for health service provision in the village, we are being overwhelmed by the demand for laboratory, maternity services hence our future plan to widen the scope and depth of our services to the rural and unserved population in Okere. We also intend to conduct community health education through medical outreaches. In the coming two years, we hope to achieve the following outcomes:
i. To establish a Medical Laboratory Unit: The laboratory will enable better diagnosis and hence accurate prescriptions for treating the diagnosed diseases.
ii. To establish Maternity Unit. The maternity wing will equip us with the capacity to provide pre and post-natal care services and provide excellent child delivery services. This will reduce birth complications that many times lead to the death of both mothers and babies.
iii. To strengthen Community Health Education: To promote preventive health practices, we shall conduct health education through community outreaches.
Okello Bosco, our Medical Officer is our village star. His unbridled commitment to serve and treat sick people is beyond any reasonable measure. To him, we owe our quickly improving health outcomes. “The past year has been a rollercoaster,” he said. “I am looking forward to the future with more optimism as we strive to build a robust medical facility at Okere City” Okello concluded.