April 10th, 2017
Resty Nsamba says that she is 30 years old, but her experiences and level of respect in her community suggest that she is much older. Selected as a Village Health Team member by her village, Kyeyindula, in Kakooge sub county, Nakasongola district, Uganda in 2009, Resty had begun providing community health services in September 2008. Now in her fourth year of service as a village health team member, Resty confesses that work has not always been smooth: “We were selected but not trained; even some community members did not believe in us.”
In 2011, Amref Health Africa, with funding from the Government of Canada through the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD), launched a project to strengthen the role of community health workers, commonly called Village Health Teams, through training and capacity building. Resty and other community health workers benefited from the skills they learned, which included identifying key symptoms of malaria, referrals and data management.
Currently, Resty is a parish village health team peer supervisor and often walks long distances to ensure that she counsels and refers children and mothers in her home village. She is highly respected with people in her village following her advice on all health matters.
In response to mothers’ pleas to play an even greater role in her community, Resty is the chairperson of a local community based organization – Ffena Kunabegereka – supported by Amref Health Africa. The group has organized women to carry out teachings, through drama, on the use of insecticide treated mosquito nets and other malaria prevention strategies.
These volunteer positions are not Resty’s first foray into public service. In 2007, she was a community medicine distributor and was elected as an immunization mobilizer, which she did for five years. When asked about her motivation to volunteer, Resty simply says: “When I am needed I go with great spirit because I am assisting people in my community; I am ready to do the work.”
Resty, an ordinary woman with an extraordinary life, demonstrates what a powerful force community health workers can be in bringing services to marginalized groups and bridging the gap between formal health facility workers and community health workers. These services are critical to creating better health for children and mothers in rural communities