Friday, August 20, 2010
Since January 2010, we have constructed 4 shallow wells, and facilitated the repair of a fifth. We also have 2 wells currently under construction. Each of our wells reaches at least 500 villagers, over half of them children. Poor water and poor sanitation and hygiene account for 80% of all diarrheal disease in Uganda – and diarrheal disease causes almost a fifth of Uganda’s deaths of children under five! Thus water provision remains one of the most effective ways to save lives in Uganda.
We restructured our Safe Water program this year, putting greater emphasis on educating communities about water treatment, training village Water User Committees, and monitoring and evaluating the effects of our community-constructed shallow wells. We have also adopted an improved and more expensive shallow well construction model, which will ensure that we are delivering the highest quality water to our villages.
Uganda Village Project held 10 massive HIV and STI testing days over summer 2010, counseling and testing 1419 villagers. That’s about 12% of the adults in our villages! Of those tested, 34 were HIV-positive – quite a low rate for Eastern Uganda. We referred HIV-positive villagers to various Health Centers and NGOs for further counseling and free anti-retroviral treatment.
To run our testing days, we partner with a Community-Based Organization (CBO) called St. Mary’s. Every testing day is held directly in the village, so that villagers without the ability to travel to Health Centers or Iganga Town are able to access testing. This year we tested 200 villagers for syphilis, as well as for HIV, and found a remarkably high rate of infection. We are investigating this trend, and plan to bring more syphilis testing to the villages soon.Giving Vision
We committed massive resources to our eye care program during the first half of 2010. Some of our accomplishments are:
12 cataract removals
37 villagers given glasses
27 lid rotation surgeries, for villagers with trachoma
250 villagers treated in total
Alanta Colley, UVP Healthy Villages Coordinator, facilitated one special patient's surgical repair and recovery: "We returned Nabirye Betty to her home today, and she's a different woman from when we first met her; when I met her 4 weeks ago she was in pain, very thin, blind, and very slow. Today she was looking healthy and much less thin, was smiling and able to move around easily by herself. Her pain seems to have disappeared. We returned her back to her family who were overjoyed to receive her. The cataract operation was a success," Alanta reports.
Uganda Village Project continues to provide high quality, Long Lasting Insecticide-Treated Nets (LLINs) to our “Healthy Villages.” Since the beginning of 2010 we have sold roughly 1,150 nets! As most of these nets will cover at least 2 villagers, this means over 2 thousand villagers – perhaps half of them children – protected against malaria.
Various studies across the developing world have shown that sleeping under an insecticide-treated net prevents malaria by 14-60%. Yet in Uganda, Africa’s third highest country for rate of malaria deaths, only 12.8% of people sleep under nets! We are committed to increasing this coverage rate in our catchment area, and have recently improved our distribution and monitoring technique in order to most effectively target those villagers most in need of mosquito nets and malaria education.
In early 2010, Uganda Village Project launched Village Sanitation Campaigns in each of our “Healthy Villages.” So far, we have only completed campaigns in three villages, but already we have helped villagers to…. ADD BUTONGOLE.
Dig 9 and improve 181 latrines
Construct 357 hand-washing facilities
Build 21 kitchens and 63 bathing rooms
Build 278 UV-disinfecting plate stands
Dig 289 trash pits
These numbers represent a drastic increase in sanitation levels! In Bugabula, for instance, houses with hand-washing facilities went from 19% to 99%. Houses with plate stands from 15% to 100%. Presence of trash pits increased from 13% to 96%, and houses with covers over their latrine from 8% to 64%.
Poor sanitation causes many diseases, from trachoma (Uganda’s leading cause of preventable blindness) to diarrheal disease (a top killer of children), to hookworm (which cause malnutrition, increase the risk of all other diseases). By increasing sanitation in our villages we are increasing health and saving lives!
We have been supporting the nutritional and medical needs of 2 babies in Bulumwaki Village. Both children were severely malnourished as infants, and suffer continual health problems as a result. We have been providing these babies with supplemental milk formulas, treating their co-morbidities (such as measles and malaria), bringing them to doctors who are experts in child nutrition, and training their parents to care for them in the best possible way.
We realize that we can’t save every malnourished child in Uganda. But we can save a few, all the while working to prevent those conditions which cause malnutrition in the first place – malaria, poor water, lack of immunization, poverty, worms, misunderstandings about child nutrition. In fall of 2010 we shall be embarking upon a more comprehensive nutrition program in our Healthy Villages, likely involving vegetable gardens.
We continued to provide reliable birth control options and family planning education in Healthy Villages, giving youth, women and married couples the ability to choose when they have children and how often. By training local health center nurses to conduct these outreaches, we have improved the ability of the health centers to provide quality contraception in their catchment area.
At the moment, an average of 20 women from each of our 10 villages are on UVP-provided birth control. Some of these women are young – 15 or 16 and still in secondary school. Birth control might keep these girls in school long enough to finish their degree and have a chance at university. Some of the women are older – perhaps 45 with 8 children already. These women are grateful for the ability to stop having children, and focus on providing for the kids they have.
In most of Eastern Uganda family planning is widely regarded as suspect and possibly dangerous, and most government health centers have a periodic supply of contraceptives at best. By coupling education and direct provision of contraceptives we are improving the situation. Most of our villages had only 1 or 2 women practicing family planning before we entered the scene so an average of 20 is a huge accomplishment!
Uganda Village Project continues to provide education to orphans and other vulnerable children in Iganga District. We are currently funding 39 secondary school students. We are also funding 2 university students: Robert Mukholi at Kyambogo University, and Mercy Bakirya at Kampala International University. Our 2 university students overcame personal trails and stiff competition to gain university acceptance, and we are very proud of them!
Uganda Village Project continues to provide healing surgery to women with obstetric fistula. Since January 2010, we have facilitated this surgery for 17 women.
Obstetric fistula (Latin for “hole”) is characterized by an abnormal passageway between the vagina or uterus and internal organs such as the bladder or rectum, which leads to persistent leakage of urine and/or feces through the vagina. This leakage and the rank odor that follows, together with a diverse array of other possible side effects such as infertility, chronic infection, and neurological injury, all conspire towards a devastating outcome whereby the woman is isolated from family, society, and employment.
Uganda Village Project is continuing to address this horrific condition in Iganga District through village education, the creation of Health Center referral networks, and surgery for women suffering from fistula.
By Leah Bevis