Promoting Rural Health in Okere Village
The end of May 2020 brought the Okere City Project a new gift — the Okere City Community Health Centre. The facility will provide essential health services such as testing and treatment of diseases like malaria, typhoid, STIs. We shall also do voluntary guidance and counselling especially to HIV/AIDS patients. Of paramount significance will be our health education services offered through community outreaches.
“We are excited for the commencement of this journey that will make us be a part of an enabling ecosystem for promoting and enabling better rural healthcare services to the community in Okere and beyond” said Ojok Okello, the co-founder and CEO of the Okere City Project.
Functional rural health systems remain a global public health challenge. Despite the huge differences between developing and developed countries, access is the major issue in rural health around the world. Even in countries like Uganda where the majority of the population (85%) lives in rural areas, the resources are concentrated in cities and major towns. This is further compounded with difficulties in accessing transport and communication services, shortages of doctors and other health professionals in rural and remote areas. Because of those, rural dwellers are thus caught in an endless web of ill health which resultantly affects their productivity and keep enmeshing them in a poverty trap.
In Uganda, public health service delivery is one of the most functional public services thanks to the implementation of five-year Health Sector Strategic Plans (HSSP) that started in 2000. A key emphasis of the HSSP is Uganda’s emphasis on health infrastructure to improved physical access to health facilities. This is implemented through a 5 tiered structure starting from Health Centre I (which is also referred to us Village Health Teams) through to health centre V (which are regional referral hospitals). In between are HCII (at the parish level), HCIII (at the parish level) and HCIV (at the district, town council or municipal level). Because of these structures, the proportion of the population living within 5 kilometres of health facility is currently at 72% according to Ministry of Health.
In Okere Parish, there is an HCII located 4KMs from our newly established community health centre. However, as is the case with other health centres at that level, the health centre operates dismally and is not well equipped with both medicine and healthcare professionals to attend to the public health needs of the local community. HCIIs are supposed to provide primary health services limited to diagnosis and treatment of common diseases such as malaria. Adwari Health Centre III located in Okwongo Trading Centre, 7KMs away from Ayiloi Village where Okere Community Health Centre is located also provides essential health services such as family planning services and antenatal care (ANC) and child deliveries and postnatal care (PNC), HIV&AIDS Counselling and Treatment (HCT) among others. Therefore, although ill-equipped to address the complex public health challenges, a public health service delivery option exists for most people in Okere — just like many others in rural Uganda.
The Okere Community Health Centre thus presents a unique alternative which is both timely, affordable, easily accessible and quality at the same time. The health facility is equipped with quality drugs and is managed by a qualified enrolled nursing officer. Besides, the health centre will also provide health education and community outreaches to sensitise the rural community on various public health challenges and opportunities.
In the near future, it is expected that the health facility will organically grow and emerge as a full-fledged hospital providing a wide range of medical services!
 Strasser R (2003). Rural health around the world: challenges and solutions. Family Practice Vol. 20, №4 © Oxford University Press.
 (MoH 2015)