Every year One Village hosts a Health Awareness Program in Namwendwa.
The annual Health Day began as a HIV/AIDS awareness day held every second year held at Namwendwa Primary School. The program was initiated to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and encourage open, positive discussion while offering counselling, HIV testing and further support. The program has now grown to encorporate other aspects of health awareness such as malaria prevention, dental care, hygiene and nutrition. The program is run over 1 or 2 days and is hosted by Namwendwa Primary School and open to the entire community.
How the health program evolved
Everyone knows that the AIDS epidemic throughout Africa is phenomenal.
In Namwendwa, like many rural communities in Uganda there are many misconceptions surrounding AIDS. Some people believe that HIV/AIDS is a curse while others who have already tested positive are convinced that God will cure them. Another tragic misconception is that sleeping with a virgin will cure AIDS.
Educating people on the facts about HIV/AIDs, and connecting them to local services such as testing and counciling services can make a huge difference to support those infected and affected by the disease and to help reduce the spread of the disease.
In later years this philosophy was also applied to other areas of health.
In 2008, One Village volunteer and registered nurse Madeline Dodd, conducted surveys in the community of Namwendwa, and volunteered in the local health clinic. She used the information she gathered from the surveys and from the Health Centre records and staff to put together a report on Malaria and HIV in Namwendwa. This spurred One Village to incorporate Malaria awareness into the programme.
In 2011, One Village volunteers and health professionals Erin Holmes and Chanelle Corena, and dental student Vaibhav Garg also travelled to Namwendwa. They conducted comprehensive health surveys on a large scale throughout the community, including questions on Malaria, HIV/AIDS, dental care and nutrition. The data from these surveys is now being used to assist One Village in providing well directed information on other aspects of health to the community during the health days.
What has taken place so far?
The Health Days vary from year to year but usually take the same format which has proven to be very sucessfull. Throughout the day/s support organisations manage workshops and presentations to raise awareness. The presentations are given in the form of dramas and songs and are performed in the local language, Lusoga.
The largest support organisation in Uganda, TASO also attends to provide further information and so community members can make the necessary contacts they need to receive further support. The HIV/AIDS awareness days have now grown to incorporate other aspects of health awareness. Malaria is another devastating problem in Uganda, with awareness about the simple measures that can be taken to prevent it very low.
As of 2010, One Village invited a Ugandan organisation Soft Power to attend the Health Day and provide information on Malaria. Soft Power also sell pyrietherem treated nets at a subsidised rate to the community and conduct follow up surveys to ensure the nets are being used correctly. The local schools are also involved and often create role plays to encourage empathy within the community. Throughout the program counselling and HIV testing is also available.
To encourage attendance One Village provides all community members with a substantial lunch during the program.
This program has received much celebration and hope within the community, reaching over 3000 people.
Looking into the future
Armed with the results from the 2011 surveys and other research, , One Village will continue to increase the scope of the health days.
In 2011 the health day was bigger than ever with a record number of people attending. With enough funding, we also hope to be able to broaden our health programme, but are still in the research stages of how best this can be done.