”Since the Lutheran malaria program came, malaria cases in our area have gone down,” says Teckla, a nurse in Katakwi, Uganda.
Teckla and her colleagues Lucy, Pascaline and Betty are health workers at a government clinic in Katakwi, Uganda. Their clinic is designated a “Health Center II,” which means it’s a local clinic that provides mostly pre-natal care and treatment for simpler diseases or infections. More complicated cases are referred to a Health Center III or Health Center IV—larger, regional hospitals with more sophisticated resources.
(Photo: L to R: Lucy, Teckla, Pascaline, Betty)
Volunteers with Village Health Teams, called VHTs, are trained by the Lutheran malaria program andprovide malaria care at the local level, through community events and household visits. Once a month, they report to the Health Center II about the cases that they have tested and treated that month.
Nurse Teckla noted some additional achievements that had been made in cooperation with the LWF (Lutheran World Federation) malaria program: “cases of severe malaria have decreased, especially in under-5 children. Collaboration with the VHTs is very good, because it means they can make instant referrals to our health center when someone has a severe case of malaria. The patient can choose what to do, of course, but the VHT encourages them to come to the clinic. The target groups of the Lutheran program—pregnant women, children under 5, people living with HIV and AIDS, orphans and vulnerable children—these groups are very happy now because they get help at the local level.”
Betty, a midwife at the health center, added “as a midwife, I can report that mothers are happy with the nets and malaria medicines that are given to them [from the Lutheran malaria program]. Because malaria cases are down, we have more time to see maternity patients with other diseases, like urinary tract infections, respiratory infections and diarrhea.”
Pascaline is a nursing assistant. She adds, “The LWF program has been supplying ACTs [malaria medication]. Since the Lutheran program came, there have been no more malaria medication ACT stock-outs. The LWF program also supplies Rapid Diagnostic Tests, so now we are testing first, and only people who test positive get the malaria medication.”
During July and August of 2013 (the rainy season), 291 children under 5 were tested for malaria. 220 of them, or 76%, tested positive. After several months of malaria programming in those communities, the statistics had improved greatly. During the next rainy season (February and March 2014), 376 under-5 children were tested, and only 87 of them (23%) were found to have malaria.
“The Lutheran malaria program and the VHTs are doing a lot of great work,” confirms Nurse Teckla.