“When I discovered I was heavy with my first child in 2007, I was overcome with anxiety. There was no reliable person in my community to confide in,” explains 30-year-old Doreen, a mother of five from Uganda’s Kanyunga District. Thus, when she had the opportunity to be trained as a CHW in 2016, she says she jumped at it. “I mainly wanted to build my capacity to take care of my children’s medical needs, and also offer health advice to mothers and their children in my community.”
“The people in my community know that they do not have to run to the main hospital to access treatment for basic illnesses among children or to get contraceptives, because I am a few steps away from them,” she notes.
However, things haven’t been entirely rosy for Doreen. “While before COVID I could easily access my clients and supervisor Scovia, with the pandemic came a climate of fear. Movement was extremely difficult because of the lockdown restriction measures, and my clients were initially hesitant to reach out to me or go to hospitals because they feared that health workers were the ones spreading the virus,” Doreen explains. To overcome that, she incorporated information on prevention measures and vaccination against COVID in her routine visits to the community. “Currently I’m focusing on encouraging people to embrace COVID vaccines the same way they embraced immunization against polio.”
Though Doreen is passionate about alleviating the health needs in her community and has been able to use the knowledge gained to help her family, she would like to see some changes for all CHWs. “I believe that CHWs need to be motivated financially to enhance their effectiveness,” she says.