Family Health Days: keeping families alive and safe
KABAROLE Uganda, February 18, 2013. Priscilla Tusima, a mother of two used to worry a lot about her children falling sick with diarrhea, malaria and other diseases. Living in a remote area in western Uganda, where health facilities are lacking, she found it hard to access basic medical care.
With the introduction of Family Health Days, however, Priscilla and her family can now receive the care and attention they need.
UNICEF Uganda, in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Faith Based Organizations, have instituted the Family Health Days, during which an integrated package of health interventions is offered at various places of worship for free.
“I heard on the radio that there are Family Health Days which offer services in the mosque and churches,” says Priscilla. “That is why I decided to come to bring my children so they can be immunized and checked.”
Family Health Days are organized every four months, and are held after religious services on Fridays and Sundays. They target the general population in hardship areas, where access to healthcare is limited. Services offered range from immunization and birth registration of children under five to free antenatal care for mothers, deworming, and blood pressure checks for fathers accompanying their spouses. Counselling and education on leading healthy lifestyles is also offered to the youth.
“Religious leaders play an important role in mobilizing communities to access medical services. After prayers in church or the mosques, families receive routine services like immunization, which they could have missed,” notes Dr. Richard Mugahi, the District Health Officer for Kabarole.
Through Family Health Days, traditional barriers to healthcare like long distances have been eliminated. Communities are mobilized through radio announcements and awareness activities prior to the actual campaign days. The services which are attracting large numbers are truly bringing much needed relief and improving the lives of many across the country.
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