I have encountered this question a lot and would like to address it in this week’s blogpost. It begins in 1992 when the Government of Uganda adopted decentralisation as a policy to improve service delivery, among other things. The number of districts is currently 112, from 33 in 1990. So basically, every district was divided into three which meant that there was need for creation of new services, and new headquarters. Although the expected outcome was that access should have grown at the same rate, the reality is that some newer districts like Luuka still lack access to basic social services.
Luuka District’s main hospital got burnt in August 2013, accelerating the already poor state of healthcare access in this area. Read about the status of healthcare access in Luuka District in an article from The Observer here. Budondo’s closest clinic is about 24 kilometers away and there are no ambulances. Women in labor are usually transported to the hospital on a motorcycle or bicycle on bumpy murram roads. Inevitably, many mothers opt for homebirths, without professional healthcare services. This risks their lives and those of their babies.
The completion of the Suubi Health Center will provide maternal and general healthcare services to over 26,000 women, children, and their families. Better still, the Suubi Center will fill a huge gap in providing access to healthcare to many people who would otherwise not be able to get to a health center. The most exciting news about this initiative is that it is a community-driven project with established leadership and visionaries who care about the future of their community.
The people of Budondo have not been sitting on their hands.
For the past 3 years, a team of Suubi women Community Health Workers has been trained to provide health education in maternal health, nutrition, malaria, family planning, sanitation and hygiene. The Suubi women are known in the community as health educators, and their vibrant voices have been key in advocating for a health center for their community.
The Suubi Center has already designed a sustainability plan that includes building income-generating projects such as the Suubi passion fruit and sugarcane gardens, commercial pine tree planting, and construction of a community theater hall. The community has already grown 3 acres of sugarcane, which will be ready for harvest later this year.
Mr Bernard Mukisa, who is from Budondo and is the visionary behind the Suubi Center says; “The people here are so excited about Suubi [Health Center]. Many of them voluntarily helped to plant the sugar cane and many will be here to help in harvesting it. Everyone in the community is buzzing with excitement because of the new health center that will help fill the gap of lack of access to healthcare services.”
I am invested in this project especially (and I know there could be other health centers that need building in other new districts) because it reaffirms my belief in a grassroots approach to development. This is a model that creates true ownership and long term impact in the community.
Latifah is fundraising to help build Suubi Center in Budondo, Luuka district. She will be sharing her progress and her learning process here every Tuesday.
You can donate to her campaign here.