Health Minister Passes Out 164 Community Health Extension Workers in Lira

One hundred and sixty-four (164) Community Health Extension Workers (CHEWs) have passed out to help improve health service delivery in different parishes in Lira City and the district. According to the Health Ministry, CHEWS are human resources that will advance Uganda’s health promotion and disease prevention agenda. 

The Community Health Extension Workers will be institutionalized, paid a monthly allowance, and work closely with the existing Village Health Teams (VHTs) who are community volunteers, according to th Health Minister, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng Ocero. The Health Ministry selected Lira and Mayuge districts to pilot the program.

Unlike the VHTs who are deployed in groups of four per village, only two CHEWs will be deployed per parish meaning that they will require regular supervision from health practitioners.

Speaking at the pass out of the CHEWs after completing their six months of training on Sunday, Dr. Jane Aceng, the Health Minister, said that since most diseases are preventable, the CHEWs will be responsible for identifying health challenges within the community and reporting them on time so that surveillance team can find out what the problem is.  

The Minister called upon the teams to build a good relationship among themselves, the community, and VHTs for easy access and implementation of their work.

She revealed that they will not abandon the VHTs. “They will remain there so you have to create a rapport with VHTs because you may not be able to walk to all the villages in your parish,” she said.  Patrick Buchan Ocen, the Lira District Health Officer explained that the CHEWs shall help complement the work of the VHTs because the VHTs did not go through intensive training and some are already growing old, which limits their movement.

Denis Ocen, a CHEW from Acutkumu parish in Aromo sub-county, said that with the knowledge he acquired during the training, he will be able to save his community, which he says has for long suffered from malaria.

Similarly, Romano Olwa, a CHEW from Teso ‘C’ parish in Lira City West Division, believes that he has acquired enough knowledge to manage health problems within his community.  Sam Atul, the Lira City Mayor called upon the CHEWs to operate within the areas they have been trained to avoid unnecessary death.

In 2018, the world commemorated 40 years of the Alma Ata Declaration on primary health care (PHC), which emphasized the importance of Community Health Workers (CHWs) in ensuring its vision of health for all. 

In line with the declaration, Uganda launched a CHEW program in an effort to address the high disease burden and a critical shortage of health professionals as well as improve equitable access to health services. The CHEWs in Lango were trained in partnership with USAID Rhites North Lango and Living goods.

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