Ssamba Foundation through our Project Healthcare is looking at improving the quality of rural health care through partnerships and collaborations. Access to healthcare services is critical to good health, yet rural communities like Kyampisi Subcounty in Mukono District face a variety of access barriers.
Ssamba Rural Healthcare Projects have supported vulnerable individual members of the community to conveniently and confidently access services such as primary care, dental care, emergency care, and public health services. Rural residents of Mukono district often encounter barriers to healthcare that limit their ability to obtain the care they need.
Even when an adequate supply of healthcare services exists in the community, there are other factors to consider in terms of healthcare access. For instance, to have good healthcare access, a rural resident must also have: Financial means to pay for services and means to reach and use services, such as transportation to services that may be located at a distance.
The Challenge: Ssamba Rural Healthcare Projects
90 percent of Mukono district residents live in rural communities and unfortunately less than 10 percent of the district’s physicians practice in those areas. The scarcity of rural health professionals contributes to increased rates of hospitalizations for patients with conditions such as such as asthma and pneumonia, HIV/AIDS, Malaria, childhood illnesses such as measles, tetanus, parasitic diseases and malnutrition which might be avoided if patients receive timely and effective primary care. The scarcity also may be at least partially responsible for the greater incidence of chronic health conditions such as hypertension, heart disease, and emphysema among rural residents.
Poverty and lack of insurance also impede consistent and comprehensive access to medical care in rural communities. Nearly 99.99 percent of all adults in rural communities are uninsured. A lack of money, time, or both often prevent residents from traveling to the urban medical centers that offer the services they need.
Ssamba Foundation is attempting to address these challenges with innovative programs designed to increase the capacity of rural providers to deliver primary and specialty care. Ssamba Foundation is using collaborative care models that link rural physicians, nurses, and caregivers with international specialists to work alongside them in tackling medical issues at hand.
Approach and Strategy:
Ssamba Foundation’s rural healthcare and medical program partners with health systems, health departments, and community groups in and around Mukono district to identify and address local health needs. As part of the Health Improvement plan to address health disparities in Mukono— our organization is recruits medical volunteers and places them in various private and public health systems. Through the Healthcare program we organize delivers health education, medicines, and supplies to needy communities of Uganda.
Through our Ssamba Rural Healthcare Projects we have also introduced the Ssamba Cares Mobile Clinic that provides medical service to many people in rural areas of Mukono district. Many people cannot access medical services due to remoteness of some villages and many cannot afford to pay for treatment.
Many people die of malaria caused by mosquitoes. Children die of worms and Diarrhea and malaria as well. With professional Ssamba Foundation nurses and medical volunteers, Ssamba Foundation organizes trips to these villages to provide medical services.
In this activity we provide malarial treatment, mosquito nets, dressing cuts (wounds) and provide de-worming tablets to children. This project has saved many people’s lives especially the poor ones in rural communities of Mukono, Uganda.
Reaching Rural Residents
Ssamba Foundation has gone a step further by trying to engage rural residents in health prevention programs. The organization has been working to address high rates of HIV/AIDS and early pregnancies in rural communities by encouraging residents to participate in family planning programs.
By running mobile dental and medical clinics alongside health education workshops, we help to improve healthcare conditions in hard to reach areas. People in villages face health concerns that diminish their ability to improve their lives whereas the quality of health influences the quality of life for any individual and subsequently impact development for a community.
Much as a lot has been done there is a need to increase on medical supplies due to high rates of sick needy people. Still another challenge is that many pregnant mothers and many bed ridden people die on the way to hospitals. This is due to lack of easy transport for sick people for proper medical assistance.
To overcome this, medical transport facility is required to reduce the death rate. Many HIV+ Patients in remote areas are not able to walk the 30 kilometers or more to go and access their treatments so Ssamba Foundation reaches these people with medical facilities with professional nurses and buy Septrin and ARVs for these groups of people.
Volunteering | Internships
Volunteers with previous experience can assist doctors with an assortment of medical related activities in hospitals, health centres or clinics. Depending on interest and experience, the task that volunteers will take part in will vary from day to day, and project site.
Knowledgeable volunteers as well as those certified to carry out medical tasks can help doctors with providing minor treatments-like provision pain relief and cough medicines, de-wormers, with medication such as antibiotics, anti-malarial and mosquito nets, antacids, anti-infections for more complicated conditions to the patients, but of course with the guidance of the doctor or medical nurses.
A volunteer can also work alongside the nurses who provide village health talks. Village Health Talks is an innovative and grassroots approach to addressing rural healthcare and public health in rural communities of Uganda. Its goal is to improve the provision of healthcare and of preventative health education to underserved populations across Uganda. Nurse, health counselors, social workers and international volunteers rotate in villages teaching basic health tips.
These village workshops usually focus on personal and household hygiene and sanitation– washing hands, cleaning house and compound to remove stagnant water that usually becomes breeding ground for mosquitoes that transmit malaria, boiling water for drinking, washing hands after using latrines, food preservation, etc.
Barriers to healthcare access in rural areas| Distance and Transportation
Rural populations are more likely to have to travel long distances to access healthcare services, particularly subspecialist services. This can be a significant burden in terms of travel time, cost, and time away from the workplace. In addition, the lack of reliable transportation is a barrier to care. In urban areas, public transit is generally an option for patients to get to medical appointments; however, these transportation services are often lacking in rural areas. Rural communities often have more elderly residents who have chronic conditions requiring multiple visits to outpatient healthcare facilities. This becomes challenging without available public or private transportation.
Poor Health Literacy
Health literacy can also be a barrier to accessing healthcare. Health literacy impacts a patient’s ability to understand health information and instructions from their healthcare providers. This can be especially concerning in rural communities, where lower educational levels and higher incidence of poverty often impact residents. Low health literacy can make residents reluctant to seek healthcare due to fear of or frustration related to communicating with a healthcare professional. Additionally, navigating the healthcare systems can be difficult without health literacy skills.
Social Stigma and Privacy Issues
In rural areas, there is little anonymity; social stigma and privacy concerns are more likely to act as barriers to healthcare access. Rural residents can have concerns about seeking care for mental health, substance abuse, sexual health, pregnancy, or even common chronic illnesses due to unease or privacy concerns. Patients’ feelings may be caused by personal relationships with their healthcare provider or others working in the healthcare facility. Additionally, patients can feel fear or concerns about other residents, who are often friends, family members, or co-workers, who may notice them utilizing services for health conditions that are typically not openly discussed, such as counseling or HIV testing services. Co-location or the integration of behavioral health services with primary care healthcare services in the same building can help ease patient concerns.
Healthcare workforce shortages impact healthcare access in rural communities. One measure of healthcare access is having a regular source of care, which is dependent on having an adequate healthcare workforce. Some health services researchers argue that determining healthcare access by simply measuring provider availability is not an adequate measure to fully understand healthcare access. Measures of nonuse, such as counting rural residents who could not find an appropriate care provider, can help provide a fuller picture of whether a sufficient healthcare workforce is available to rural residents. A shortage of healthcare professionals in rural areas of Uganda can limit access to healthcare by limiting the supply of available services.
To Volunteer with our Medical Care Program, please fill the volunteer application form now.
Ssamba Foundation – empowering vulnerable communities since 2006