By Michael Rusoke, Government Relations and Advocacy Coordinator
The use of community health workers (CHWs)—community members who render primary health services to their neighbors—is a proven key strategy in addressing the growing shortage of overall health workers, particularly in low-income countries like Uganda. Although the CHW concept has been around for 50 years, in Uganda, CHWs—locally known as the Village Health Teams (VHTs)—were officially recognized in 2001. Ugandan VHTs are identified by their community members and given basic training on major health programs so that they in-turn mobilize and provide health services to their communities. But a new registry can help create further regulation and standardization of what it means to be a CHW in Uganda.
The Ministry of Health, in partnership with IntraHealth, developed and piloted the roll-out of a national Community Health Worker Registry (CHWR)—a powerful tool used by district health teams (DHTs) to capture real-time data and accurate information concerning community health workers in their respective districts. During the process, Living Goods worked with IntraHealth to share knowledge on how to train district leadership to use the tool for registration and monitoring CHWs. During the pilot phase, Living Goods is working with other partners to ensure districts can capture all CHWs and add them into the CHWR.
The evidence shows that the benefits of the CHWR are not limited only to the district health level, but also to the national level, which supports resource planning, developing health facilities, and the community at large.
Mr. Asaba Deogratious, the VHT Coordinator for Mayuge District, stressed the importance of the CHWR, saying it serves as a linkage between the community and the district health facilities” and that the registry provides information about CHWs to the various implementing partners with specific interests, involvement, training, incentives, and more. among others.
The “CHW Registry is also a dictionary of CHWs within the district”- Mr. Asaba Deogratious, Mayuge District VHT Coordinator.
Currently, IntraHealth fully rolled out the CHWR registry in 11 districts in Uganda. Currently, Living Goods is continuing to work with IntraHealth to have all the CHWs in the districts of operation also entered in the Currently, Mayuge has 2,079 CHWs in the district registry. In Mayuge, the establishment of the registry will not only cover the Living Goods-supported CHWs, but CHWs in the entire district. Establishing and populating the CHWR will continue to strengthen collaboration and partnership between Living Goods and district teams. In partnership with the Ugandan Ministry of Health, district leadership, and IntraHealth, we are currently completing data collection and entry to establish a CHWR in Kayunga, Buikwe, Mpigi and Lira Districts.
Living Goods is supportive of the CHWR roll-out, given its unique opportunity to support governments in using data for decision making. When all Ugandan districts obtain their CHWR, coordination and reference on CHWs will be a one-stop center of knowledge.
Figure 1 shows Mr. Deogratious Asaba VHT- Coordinator- entering LG- CHWs into the CHW-Registry in Mayuge district.