Last month a team of hospital staff, led by Sarah Uwimbabazi (BCH family planning nurse), ran three one-day workshops for village health workers (VHTs) in the three sub-counties that the hospital serves. Village health workers were brought in across the country by the ministry of health in 2001 as a way of connecting communities to health services. They are volunteers who have had some basic training to give health advice and sometimes simple medications. USHAPE ran training for the VHTs interested in family planning last year and this was a follow on from that. The main aim was to equip them with the knowledge, skills and confidence to provide family planning information to clients and to know when to refer them so that they can mobilise their communities to use family planning services.
156 VHTs attended in total and the training was enthusiastically received. Interactive teaching methods were used to encourage participation and learning, such as roleplays, group work, group presentations and brainstorming. The main topics covered were the different method of family planning, when to refer, identifying target groups in communities, harmonising the referral system and identifying barriers and finding solutions.
VHTs were encouraged to share their success stories of providing family planning services or advice. A VHT in Mpungu, the furthest and most difficult to reach sub-county, shared that when she started working as a VHT she placed a lot of emphasis on family planning and has since been able to invite others to her village to see how it has brought development to her village. Another told a story of a woman in her village who had three children who had all suffered with malnutrition. She was supported in using family planning to space her next child and now has four healthy children. In Kayantarogo sub-county they reported a higher uptake of family planning than other areas. They have seen many successes in the area that they attribute to family planning, such as increased production in the coffee plantations and every household having a semi-permanent house roofed with iron sheets.
The VHTs were very enthusiastic about the training and appreciated the USHAPE t-shirts as a way of delivering their messages. We are very grateful for all the hard work they do and the role they play in dispelling myths and giving information about family planning to the communities and villages the hospital serves.