Monday, March 7th
On Monday, LfM had a meeting with Mr. Anthony Katamba (General Manager of Legal & Corporate Services) at MTN headquarters where I made a formal presentation of the pilot project to his team. He was enthusiastic regarding the project proposal and suggested I return on Wednesday to obtain a letter of commitment from MTN and to work out details as to when their IT team could visit the Health Center IV in Mwera.
Tuesday, March 8th
Tuesday was International Women’s Day, a national holiday in Uganda. I spent the day with Wini orienting her regarding LfM’s work in rural Uganda and her responsibilities as the new Program Manager. She will be the main link between our VHTs and LfM’s partners in Uganda, as well as LfM’s Uganda liaison when I return to New York. Some of her duties will include aiding in the acquisition of mobile phones, ensuring they are loaded with LfM’s software, distributing them to the VHTs, helping in the training and usage of the mHealth technology and handling project logistics before beginning the pilot which will happen upon my return to Uganda in three weeks time.
Wednesday, March 9th
Wini and I worked out details regarding further screening of the VHTs for Thursday (March 10th), to complete the full complement of VHTs who will be assigned to the 25 respective villages* represented in the pilot project. I informed Mr. William Nabangi we needed at least 3 CHWs from each new village to be screened to complete the number of VHTs needed to execute the pilot. We also scheduled the VHTs’ formal training with the AIDS Information Centre (AIC) and Dr. Olive Sentumbwe-Mugisa from WHO, who will conduct a reproductive health training workshop after AIC completes their 5-day HIV/AIDS training course next week. AIC’s training will begin this Friday, March 11th.
Thursday, March 10th
As we had not completed recruiting all 25 VHTs, I went up to Mwera to do further screening of potential candidates. We ultimately screened 120+ people to fill fifty positions. We successfully screened and selected approximately 10 more teams, giving us a total of 23 VHTs. As we had 46 CHWs (just 4 short of the 50 required), I coordinated with Wini and Immaculate (resident mid-wife) to organize daily lunches that would begin Friday and continue for 6 days.
Friday, March 11th
Trainers came up from the AIDS Information Centre that morning. They divided our VHTs into two groups: one assigned to Community Hall, and the other to outside the maternity clinic of the Health Center IV. While training commenced, I completed the screening of the final VHTs, who were then sent to join the other trainees. All 25 VHTs positions are now filled and the HIV/AIDS and Family Planning training course, which will be followed by WHO’s reproductive health training, is underway. After instruction, we had a group lunch. Before dispersing, everyone was compensated for their transport needs and time.
Saturday, March 12th
I again traveled to Mwera to ensure the VHTs were all accounted for and still participating in the training (no absentees, etc.). The VHTs were all present and the trainers’ feedback regarding their motivation and adeptness was extremely positive. Wini, our Program Manager, is currently staying in Mwera to oversee the 6 day-training.
Upon my return home later that night, I had further meetings regarding the development of LfM’s mobile health technology software. I met with Dr. Eddie Emukooyo from the Ministry of Health, who was a chief developer of ICT4MPOWER. This conceptual model is extremely similar to the structure of LfM’s project pilot currently being implemented in rural Uganda. He was very supportive of our work and told me he wanted to “harmonize our efforts.” We will be in contact as to how he can assist LfM’s efforts in the future.To learn about the ICT4MPOWER project, click here.
*25 villages: Bananze, Bubangi, Bukundugulu, Bullenge, Bumbugwe, Butayunja, Butegaya, Kafumbirwango, Kakindu Church Zone, Kakindu Malwa, Kakindu Town Council, Katebere , Kireku Bugol, Kitebere, Kiwande, Mawanda Kyengeza, Mwera, Mwera Mukadde, Nabwiri Kaggungu, Namanddwa, Nawanjiri, Ngandwe, Nsambya, Vvumbe