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  • Writer's pictureEmpower Through Health

Saniya’s Story

Updated: Nov 2, 2019

She sits outside her brick house, wearing a beautiful bright African print dress. She is sorting fresh leafy vegetables, dodo, for the lunch meal. Saniya Babirye is the elected Councillor for Bukutula parish, Kagulu Sub county in Buyende district. She lives just a few meters from Mpunde Health Center, where she accesses healthcare.

Hon Saniya chopping vegetables outside her house in Mpunde village

Saniya is very grateful to live just a few steps from the health center. She has lived in Mpunde long enough and has witnessed many lives lost on the way to distant health facilities.

“We have always had a problem accessing health care. All government and private health facilities are far away. Malaria was the leading cause of death, and parents sought treatment from unqualified and unlicensed health care providers in drug shops. They do not know how to diagnose or manage health concerns, instead prescribing a combination of pain killers or antibiotics for every health condition. If you are to go to a government facility, the first thing you have to factor in is transport. Then there is the issue of drug stock out.”

A Mother's Plight

When Mpunde Health center opened last year, it redefined the health care of this vulnerable community. We are providing the best and most affordable health care to a growing population currently estimated at 70,000.

“Many love ones died en-route to distant hospitals. My neighbor almost lost a child before Mpunde Health Center was opened. She sought treatment from the drug shop, but the condition got worse and the child was convulsing. On the motorcycle ride to the hospital, she wailed thinking the child was dead! Bystanders felt the child’s pulse and told them to rush him to the hospital as he was barely alive. It’s a miracle that boy survived. Can you imagine a mother’s helplessness, seeing her child’s life slip away in her arms, on a motorcycle?

Well, now we just walk to the health center and access treatment, in the right time. Although people still get sick, they are able to access affordable health care at a walk-able distance.”

Hon Saniya (seated in bright dress) with ETH staff during the opening ceremony of Mpunde Health Center in 2018

Social Groups Improving Sanitation and Hygiene!

As Mpunde Health Center continues to provide the best, the women in our catchment area are working hard to ensure proper sanitation and hygiene in their homes through existing women groups to prevent diseases related to poor sanitation. The basic requirements for one to join the groups include having a latrine, bathroom, a kitchen rack, space for hosting visitors, kitchen, garbage pit, extra room in case a visitor has to spend a night, a kitchen garden where one can grow vegetables among others. Every month, a member of the group is gifted with household items if she meets scores well during the inspection of the home.

A typical homestead in the village setting

Saniya is all praises for the social groups. She says that “the groups have played a big role in sensitizing women on many issues, and this is helping us develop our communities. When they meet, they strengthen one another, emphasize education of both girls and boys among others. These women are changing mind sets and contributing positively towards development. We are helping one another to practice proper sanitation and hygiene as preventive ways to avoid disease in the home.”

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