Maternal Health Education at the Grassroots: Role of the Village Health Team Workers

By Precious Mutoru

SO.U.L. Foundation Information Communication and Operations Specialist

The maternal health program at S.O.U.L. Foundation aims to reach every individual in the community with up to date maternal and child health information in order to reduce maternal and infant mortality in the region. This is currently being achieved through various information channels, including the Village Health Team (VHT) workers, who are the first health care responders at the grassroots level of communities. Because S.O.U.L. Foundation recognizes the significant role and influence the VHTs have within the villages, the maternal health team recently worked with district and sub-county health officials to train a cohort of 34 VHTs from Budondo sub-county on maternal and child health.

A recent cohort of Village Health Team (VHT) volunteers

A recent cohort of Village Health Team (VHT) volunteers

As an Information Communication and Operations Specialist, I work closely with this passionate cohort of maternal health ambassadors, who are now able to identify pregnancy danger signs, refer mothers to the nearest health centers, extend maternal health education to the broader community, and collect data about key health indicators. My role includes managing and training the VHTs on data collection, analysis, and reporting skills. Furthermore, I engage the VHTs in feedback sessions where they share their experiences, challenges, and solutions so that the program is fine-tuned to meet community needs.

VHT members engage in an evaluation session

VHT members engage in an evaluation session

Each VHT utilizes a set of data tools during their work that includes home registers, in which they record data about every household within the community, referral booklets for referring people who need immediate medical attention to the nearest health facility, and quarterly report forms to summarize data collected.

S.O.U.L. Foundation is committed to continuously imparting knowledge and current health information to the VHTs to improve their quality of work through training and supportive supervision. Recently, we rolled out a VHT management project where VHTs meet once in a quarter to review their data tools and data collection techniques, discuss any challenges in their line of work, and get involved in group evaluation sessions to ensure knowledge intake and retention. Based on the reports gathered in the most recent quarter, VHTs have greatly improved in data collection and reporting, yet there is still more room for growth.

VHT members present their certificates of participation in S.O.U.L. Foundation's Maternal and Child Health class

VHT members present their certificates of participation in S.O.U.L. Foundation's Maternal and Child Health class

The cohort of VHT volunteers is greatly committed to serving and promoting good health in their communities. In a recent community tour with the cohort coordinators, community members commended the VHTs for their remarkable work within the community. One elderly woman testified that the VHT member in her village saved her pregnant daughter's life when he referred her to the hospital after realizing that her feet were abnormally swollen. She explained that the midwife at the health center attended to them very fast when they presented the VHT referral form and that her daughter delivered safely. This and many other stories go a long way to show the impact of S.O.U.L. Foundation's maternal health education program and the tremendous work of the VHTs.