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Kulingo Village QI team awarded for its work in community health systems strengthening
The Kulingo Village Savings and Loans Association (VISLA) is an initiative of the Kulingo Village Improvement team in Uganda. It was one of three teams awarded by URC’s community program contest for its excellent community work. The contest was launched to celebrate URC’s 50th anniversary of improving the quality of health care, social services, and education worldwide.
Kulingo Village is one of six villages implementing community quality improvement (QI) interventions through the USAID Applying Science to Strengthen and Improve Systems (ASSIST) Project to improve retention in HIV patients on ART in the Kamuli district of Uganda. In January 2015, the team began a saving platform called Kulingo VISLA, which consists of 15 local QI team members whose goal is to support and empower as many local HIV positive community members as possible. The QI team members consist of Village Health Team (VHT) members, expert clients, religious leaders, school representatives, local council leaders, family members, youth representatives and seven members.
The team has since linked 32 patients to care from the health facility, 28 of whom are still receiving ART from their original health facility, and on average, one new patient is linked to their care per month. The team is supporting the 28 HIV patients on ART to ensure that they remember to attend their scheduled HIV clinic appointments.
In addition to ensuring each patient attends their HIV clinic appointments, the team goes above and beyond to establish and strengthen the patient’s economic activities through its VISLA platform to promote self-sustenance, access basic needs, take care of their families, and ultimately improve their quality of life. But as Juliet Birungi, a VHT member, explains, "the opportunity to support more community members is enormous, but the VISLA lacks adequate finances to support all.”
With support from URC and its 50th anniversary community program contest, Kulingo VISLA will be awarded a prize donation for their excellent contributions to their community and to local patient’s living with HIV.
An award ceremony was held in honor of the Kulingo team on November 11, where Kulingo VISLA was presented the award by Mirwais Rahimzai, Chief of Party for the USAID ASSIST project in Uganda.
Community members and guests being entertained at by a local artiste at the Kulingo prize giving ceremony.
The ceremony was filled with speeches of gratitude and inspiration, celebratory dances, and ululations, as the Kulingo village savings team spoke about how the improvement group has enhanced their self-management of the HIV disease through the businesses they started and also growing the group's total savings from 30,000 ($28) to 460,000 Ugandan Shillings ($137).
Testimonies of the team’s excellent work were also presented from Joweriah Kasiir, a community QI coach, and Beatrice, a community beneficiary. They both reaffirmed how the award was a semblance of how well the lives and clinical outcomes of the beneficiaries have changed since joining the empowerment group.
“Providing HIV care for the clients from Kulingo has been eased nowadays, they keep their appointments and rarely present with any infections thanks to their proper self-management. They maintain proper nutrition and can afford transport costs to the health facility which is a distance away, the livelihoods improvement support has definitely made them better clients to manage and a good example to others”
– Joweriah Kasiir, ART clinic in charge Kamuli Hospital and Kulingo community QI coach
The VISLA pledged to use the prize money to improve the lives of other HIV positive clients in the village while enabling their current members to expand and grow their investments for even better livelihoods.
Thank you Kulingo VISLA for your excellent work in the world of global health!
November 20, 2015