World Health Day is one of the important days we cerebrate as FoHA given the nature of our calling and mission to Rescue and Empower families living in poor health. It is a global health awareness day celebrated every year on 7 April since 1950 commemorating the founding of the World Health Organization in 1948.
Whereas this is a special day to mark WHO’s founding, and seen as an opportunity by the organization to draw worldwide attention to a specific subject of major importance to global health each year, we will also use this very opportunity to draw worldwide attention to the quality of life in the rural families of Uganda and its effect on their health.
Close to a week a go, we spent 3 full days moving from one family to another in Mityana District trying to update our information on the indicators of poor health among rural families. This was a very important activity because it enabled us to evaluate the impact of our work in the rural families and also get a clear picture of how much more we need to do as we put our mission into action. Whereas there were many families that have benefited from FoHA’s intervention programs, there is still an alarming number of families that are still leaving in poor health, the need is still big and so we are doubling our effort to rescue as many families as possible, sharing the extent of the need and our intervention plans with our friends and partners for they make our success stories possible.
WHAT WE FOUND
Because we had a clear picture of how hard it is for people in these communities to get clean and safe drinking water, we walked with our bottles of water from one family to another, asking them how they have been impacted through the various programs of FoHA and also asking them to take us around their homes as we made a study on the specific areas of interest in relation to health.
In every family the challenge of water was the same, the whole community gets water for domestic consumption from one source, ponds and streams which they share with their livestock. They wait until the water settles and then they can fetch what they need to take home. The few lucky families are those that we have given water filters. Beside the contamination by livestock, most of the water wells we visited are in valleys and when it rains the rain water carries all the waste into the water.
One has to walk a very long distance to get to these water sources and its also risky especially to young girls and women since most of them are in bushy places. With this kind of water, its uncommon for a family to live a healthy life free of water borne diseases.
We found just a few families completely with out pit latrines and for most families where we found them, they were either filled up, almost falling down and others in bushes with out shelter but covered by tree logs. Tough to say, one of our team members almost fell into a pit latrine that belonged to one of the families we visited. Its a family of a single mother living with HIV/AIDS with only her two children. She said she cant afford the cost of digging a latrine and so she is using the one which her husband left, it had no shelter and yet it was filled up.
There are many factors which qualify a given community to be called rural and one of them is the condition of the houses in that given community. The houses are usually grass thatched, and made of mud with reeds. In most cases if they are too big, they have only 2 rooms. This is exactly what we found in most of the families we visited, however some were improved with, but leaking iron sheets. Because of the fear that thieves might take their poultry and goats, we found some families staying with them in their houses. Since there is no electricity deep in the rural communities, we found most of the families using local candles and a few lucky ones had solar panels. Candles are a risk to human health as they emit dangerous fumes and recent reports have indicated that they cause cancer. Most of the families we found were living with more than 5 children in two roomed houses, using local candles and also keeping their poultry in their houses. This is a very big risk to human health and yet families such as these can not afford the costs of treatment when attacked by diseases.
Health seeking behaviors.
We had one on one talks especially with the adults that we found in each family that we visited. We needed to know their health seeking behaviors to relate with the reports we got from the health center. In the last medical mission that we had in this community, we partnered with Bulera Health Center IV and they were surprised by the turn up especially with people testing for HIV yet they said they provide this service and people dont go for it. When asked, the people in the various families said; “The health center is very far and yet each time we get there we dont find the medicine we need”. Still they said that health workers are not always present at the health center and so they opt for local herbs and traditional healers because these are readily available and affordable. We realized that most people keep medicine and in the wrong way because they fear the long distance when they get sick and still ignorantly take it when its expired.
RESCUE AND EMPOWER A FAMILY LIVING IN POOR HEALTH
These are the kind of families we are called to reach out, Families living in poor health and yet can not afford the cost of good health. Thousands of children and mothers are dying from treatable and preventable illnesses. Our intervention programs are designed to address health factors that threaten the lives of families living in rural communities.
Your support helps both to Rescue and Empower a rural family living in poor health through:
- Medical Missions in communities where access to health care is a challenge.
- Emergency medical care for children with urgent medical needs, including cancer, HIV and other conditions that require immediate attention
- Provision of safe and clean water; giving families water filters and drilling boreholes for communities.
- Training Rural Health Evangelists to provide First Aid support to emergency cases in communities and share the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- Support projects for single mothers living with HIV/AIDS