Keeping Youth Healthy: Youth Pageant in Patiko
As part of the RHITES-North Acholi Project aimed at improving access to health services among communities in northern Uganda, GWED-G held a youth pageant event in Patalira village on January 20, 2020. The event was facilitated by Health Assistants, youth peers, and Village Health Teams (VHTs) to reach youth with information on tropical illnesses, HIV, Family Planning, nutrition and the importance of accessing antenatal care (ANC) services.
At the event, health staff were on-hand to provide services to community members, including screening and treatment for malaria and blood pressure testing for adults. During the event, a total of 201 community members were tested for malaria, wherein 68% (N=137) tested positive. Those who tested positive were given treatment medication and instructions.
Considering the high rate of malaria infection in the village, the Health Assistants and VHTs focused heavily on educating the participants about the potential negative outcomes of malaria, as well as preventive measures to take. Through a dialogue session, it was found that community members were underutilizing or misusing mosquito nets that were provided by the government. Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers were encouraged to visit their local health facilities to access mosquito nets. VHTs also led a discussion on other neglected tropical diseases for community members to be aware of considering the north Acholi region is the most affected region for these diseases in Uganda.
A Nursing Assistant was also in attendance to lead a community dialogue for the group centring on low attendance rates for accessing ANC services, especially during the first trimester. She encouraged male partners to accompany their pregnant partners to appointments for regular check-ups during pregnancy and warned pregnant women not to rely on traditional birth attendants who may not be trained to provide sound medical advice. She also stressed the importance of accessing ANC services early in the pregnancy to preemptively detect any potential complications, as well as to provide timely information for a healthy pregnancy to reduce maternal and infant mortality rates.