Clearing up misunderstandings

13:07 Jul 2 2012 Nabiswera, Uganda

For nearly nine months, communities in Nabiswera, Uganda, struggled with no nearby health care facility. Nabiswera Health Centre III was standing but its doors were shut due to the assumption that evil spirits did not want the clinic to operate.

While the story about evil spirits was amply being reported in the media, mothers were delivering their babies without any proper medical care, children were not receiving their immunization shots, and community members did not have access to professional medical attention. District authorities attempted to come up with ways to reopen the health center, but those were unsuccessful. The community still avoided the facility and the place remained closed.

In this difficult scenario, the Citizen Voice and Action (CVA) approach was implemented by the Nabiswera World Vision Uganda ADP in order to clear out the confusion and outline other problems that the clinic had. An interface meeting was held with service users and service providers in which everyone could voice their thoughts and concerns. Another goal of the meeting was to remind community members and health workers of their responsibilities, especially the role of communities in ensuring that children enjoy good health.

This open dialogue yielded positive results. They agreed that the centre had to be reopened immediately. In addition, community members, service providers and the government decided upon other important measures. First, the sub county government was to provide security for the clinic. Second, a community church was to establish an altar at the health centre where prayer would be offered every morning and evening. Third, the name of any health worker that did not report back to work would be referred by the clinic administration to the district authorities for disciplinary action. And last, the district authorities were to be lobbied for the installation of solar power at the health centre.

The CVA approach has transformed the situation at the clinic through creating a platform for open dialogue and advocacy. Today, all the resolutions of the meeting have been implemented. Other support actions have also been carried out, and full attendance of health centre workers has been consistent. Nabiswera Health Centre III has been working properly, and most importantly, with no interruptions.
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