A Commitment to Kashongi and Kitura
PHP’s activities in Uganda stem from the simple promise that we will do everything in our power to achieve long-lasting and high-quality healthcare for our friends in need.
Our work began in the neighboring communities of Kashongi and Kitura in the southwestern region of the country in 2009 with the Safe Motherhood Initiative. After a series of needs assessments in the community, we began providing antenatal care to pregnant women in the community in partnership with the Mayanja Memorial Hospital Foundation. Our services to each woman included health education, a physical exam, medications, an ultrasound scan, and an insecticide-treated bednet to prevent malaria.
Through our needs assessment work, we learned from community members about many of the most important challenges in Kashongi and Kitura – many of them related to disease and virtually all of them rooted in poverty. Problems include issues such as transportation to health centers, access to safe water, drug shortages, health worker shortages, malaria, HIV/AIDS, agricultural productivity, and income generation. In our work on the pregnancy period, we witnessed firsthand the devastation of many of these problems. A majority of women must deliver their babies at home, and many families must sell land or livestock simply to be able to deliver their babies in a health center.
By getting to know a number of people throughout Kashongi and Kitura, we were able to build a team of truly stellar community members who we will work with to address these problems. In the short-term, we aim to continue and strengthen our maternal and neonatal health services provided by the Omukazi Namagara Program, through which PHP is significantly strengthening service provision at local health centers and working with community health workers to educate community members about maternal and neonatal health and consistently monitor the health of pregnant women, mothers, and newborns.
In the long-term, we plan to continually add new pieces to our program and build a comprehensive healthcare system in Kashongi and Kitura. We also plan to start programs to support other basic services, such as education and access to financial resources. These initiatives will help alleviate the social and economic problems that are at the root of ill health.
In Uganda, we have also witnessed the effects of climate change – and its disproportionate impact on the poor. Several community members told us that they believe global warming is increasing the length of the dry season in Kashongi and Kitura, causing shortages of water and an increased rate of waterborne diseases. To begin to address these problems, we started a rainwater harvesting project in 2010. Along with community members, we installed 74 water collection tanks on all of the public buildings in Kashongi and Kitura and carried out a water, sanitation, and hygiene education campaign. Our goal is to reduce the prevalence of diarrheal diseases and to make safe water more available.
Our work began in Kashongi and Kitura with the promise of better healthcare for all. We have started by focusing on maternal health and access to safe water, and we will continue to work in solidarity with our community partners to create real solutions to the problems that they face day after day.