HASIFA LIVES IN A VILLAGE NEAR THE SHORES OF LAKE VICTORIA IN BUIKWE, one of the border districts that have been most affected by COVID-19 in Uganda. The nearest health center is quite far from her home. There are clinics within a walkable distance, but their services are costly and therefore exclusionary. When her children fall sick, Hasifa calls upon Shamidan, a Living Goodssupported CHW who lives a few houses away. “I usually come to this CHW because she treats my children, whether I have money at hand or not. Before she started giving us free medicines, her prices were fair compared to the clinics,” Hasifa says.
Before the pandemic, Shamidan was already a trusted CHW in the community. But her role has become even more crucial now, as she continues to diligently support the health needs of children and women and educate her community about COVID-19. “She listens to our needs. There would be a big gap without these CHWs in our communities. This CHW used to check on me almost daily when I was pregnant and ensured that I accessed the necessary antenatal care. Without her, the situation would have been dire because I had a complication and she accompanied me to the hospital, on time. We need her,” Hasifa affirms.
Shamidan is one of two CHWs in her village and serves more than 200 households. She has been instrumental in maintaining the delivery of essential RMNCH services in a community with many mobile households that are engaged in fishing activities. Since April 2020, she, like other CHWs supported by Living Goods, has received free essential medicines to treat sick children for common illnesses such as malaria, diarrhea and pneumonia. They also receive PPE, for example gloves, masks and sanitizers, to ensure their safety. CHWs were advised to limit door-to-door services during the lockdown to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, but Shamidan’s clients continued to seek her services at her home because it is more convenient and less costly.
Furthermore, Shamidan is linked to the government health facility in her sub-county, and often supports them to conduct outreach activities such as educating the masses and mobilizing children for routine immunization.
“What I like most about my job is that the clients I treat believe in me. That motivates me. I also get incentives every month, without fail,” Shamidan says, adding that she is proud of her work and looks forward to the day COVID will end so she can fully resume door-to-door services. Her biggest concern for now is that when Living Good stops distributing free medicines, her clients might not be able to afford buying them as they did before