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African Solutions for Better Health

THETA starts Digitalising 1990s Ethnobotanical and Traditional Healers Surveys

There is limited documentation of indigenous knowledge in Africa, Uganda inclusive posing a major risk to its sustainable preservation. In efforts to address partly the above challenge, the Ministry of Health, under the ‘Ethnomedicine in Uganda’ project, conducted Ethnobotanical and Traditional Healers Surveys (1990-1995) the first of its kind in Uganda, covering 23 districts.

The survey documented a rich baseline information on traditional medicine in Uganda that is critical for research, training and capacity Development for Traditional Medicine sub sector in Uganda. However the key challenges with the above survey are: 1) The available reports are in hard copies which is an unsustainable method of keeping this type of knowledge 2) Access is difficult.

In partnership with PHARMBIOTRAC – Mbarara University of Science and Technology, THETA has embarked on digitalization and centralization of the ethnobotanical surveys to enhance preservation and wider access for traditional medicine research.

Download Sample Survey attached below:

More are available in the THETA resource center

THETA to Train Youth and Women in Medicinal Plant Cultivation and Product Development

The private sector foundation Uganda, under the Skills Development Facility (SGF), has awarded THETA Uganda a Grant to undertake training of 50 Women and Youth in Rwenzori Region.
The training, slated for September – December 2020, will focus on commercial cultivation of high value medicinal plans, herbal products and business enterprise development.

Strengthening Of Community Systems to Eliminate Loss to Follow Up In EMTCT In Oyam District In Uganda

THETA Uganda with funding from ViiV Health care through Positive Action Children Fund (PACF) is implementing a three (3) year community eMTCT project (2016 – 2018), titled “Strengthening of community systems to eliminate loss to follow up in EMTCT”. The project seeks to strengthen linkages between communities and health facilities to address loss to follow up of HIV positive and lactating women across the EMTCT continuum care. The goal ofthe project is to reduce the rate of loss to follow up to HIV prevention and lactating women across the eMTCT cascade by 98% in Oyam district through a sustainable family support system by 2018.

The project objectives are to:

  • – Increase the knowledge of EMTCT and EID at family level to 95% among 920 villages in Oyam by 2018.
  • – Establish and develop a psychosocial support network of family groups that reaches 100% of HIV positive pregnant and lactating women in Oyam district.
  • – Establish a community led referred and follow up system that reaches 100% HIV+ pregnant/lactating women for eMTCT services by 2018. This project focuses on community interventions addressing loss to follow-up in eMTCT and Early Infant Diagnosis.

The project is implemented through the following strategies:

  • – Family focused EMTCT education
  • – Peer led Family support groups
  • – Economic Empowerment for families of PLHIV
  • – Harnessing traditional and cultural systems to support EMTCT
  • – Strengthening community health facility linkages

The project aims at achieving the following results:

  • – Increased number of people and families’ knowledge about EMTCT and EID
  • – Increased capacity of community structures to conduct EMTCT EDUCATION
  • – Increased access to psychosocial support by HIV positive women
  • – Increased of families to save money and invest in the community
  • – Increased access to EMTCT service

Primary School Girls and the Challenges of Menstrual Periods in Kaliro District

As the primary leaving   examinations draw to a close, all is not well at various schools in Kaliro district following the increasing school dropout rates in the district due to failure to manage menstrual hygiene challenges. District data shows that 87% of girls are failing to finish their studies. Statistics from last year’s examination finals show that of the 170 pupils who missed exams, 108 of these were girls.

InDirect Infants School in Gadumire sub county Kaliro district, the girls mostlythose in puberty are often isolated in small groups away from the boys, buthappy to keep to themselves. During my interactions, they struggle to last along smile. Only laugh faintly To some of them, puberty stage has become a night mare. The menstrual periods are individually unmanageable, yet shameful at school. Soiling their uniforms with blood stains leaves the boys in buckets of laughter.

The red days have bred untold stigma at school, and unbearable to sustain school practice, many have   chosen to abscond from school. Some brave are turn, but the faint hearted go for good. With the poverty levels biting deep,many of these don’t have essentials to use during this time.

The school director of direct infant’s primary school Patrick Daire says the situation is beyond what the institution can contain. Even the senior woman teacher cannot salvage it either. From the start of this term, the school has lost four pupils after they stained their clothes while in class and failed to return to school due to the shame.

The repercussion of these dropout rates is also felt at the district level.  Kamaga Edward, the district inspector of schools in Kaliro says, even the number of female teachers enrolled in the education profession is worrying. Out of the 1000 teachers in the district only 354 are women.

Kamaga notes that after these girls drop out of school, Marriage proposals flood in,in less than 3 months, these young  girls have become wives.
Hope Nakalema is a senior woman teacher at Mpambwa orphans care, another school in Gadumire Sub County; she is overwhelmed by the numbers that come for her rescue.  All she can do is allow girls in their periods to go home and return after. The few girls, who maneuver through the situation,have only been helped by partnering NGO’s and donors. The ministry of education and sports, ministry of health is set to partner with service providers to avail reusable pads to these children.

By Thembo Joshua KM THETA Team

THETA Joins Uganda to Celebrate – Safe Motherhood Day

Did you know that 16 mothers in Uganda die daily during delivery – What are you doing to help them?

THETA Uganda joined the rest of country today to celebrate the Safe Motherhood day – . The theme for this year was “PREVENT TEENAGE PREGNANCY; ENGAGING MEN TO PROMOTE BEHAVIOUR CHANGE”
The Press statement made by Voice for Health Rights (VHR) called upon Honorable members of Parliament, local leaders, Buganda government, Village health teams, NGO’S and Private sector to commit to addressing needs of young people especially girls. There is need for strengthening support and protection for sexual exploitation and violence, access to friendly Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) information and service networks; key programs targeting young people especially girls to gain skills and to be able to withstand pressure and ensure access to affordable Sexual Reproductive Health & Rights services.

THETA Hosts OVC Project Funders

During the week of 21st – 25th July 2014 , THETA hosted the OVC project funders. As opposed to other Donor visits, this time round the Geneva based Charity organization – SIDECOLE sent a team of four to visit the work being done in Uganda. The charity Organization is supporting 1094 Orphans and vulnerable Children in Kampala and Kaliro districts through THETA Uganda.

The funders visit to the beneficiary schools in Kaliro left smiles of Joy and hope to the Orphans and school directors just like anyone would feel when they are visited by their parents.  We conducted a walk around the schools supervising the work and achievements made in 2013 and early 2014. The many developments and changes at the schools left the funders astonished “ahhh you installed tip taps for the children to wash their hands after visiting the latrines – this is a good initiative. Well done “OVC Funder.  

In 2013, the charity group supported the schools through provision of water harvest systems, construction of pit latrines, roofing of a class room block, instructional materials, installing play stations, child to child clubs support, Integrated Practical skills and supply of food materials. This support has continuously increased the enrollment and retention levels of school going pupils. 

SIDECOLE and THETA team looking at tip tap

During this visit however it was noted that adolescent girls were absconding school due to menstrual challenges. The girls are from poor families which can hardly afford buying of sanitary pads.

.THETA, SIDECOLE and other partners continue to source for support for the most vulnerable persons in areas of Education and Health. 

African Solutions for African Challenges

Program Assistant

What Safety Plans Does Uganda And Communities Have For Survivors Of Intimate Partner Violence?

By Baluku Matayo

The press and social media has been running stories of how Moses Muhangi of NamasubaWakiso District killed his lover and a mother of their two children Josephine Nambogo. This is just a tip of iceberg to demonstrate the forms and consequences of intimate partner violence (IPV) occurring among couples.  According to Word Health Organization, IPV is one of the most common forms of violence against women and includes physical, sexual, and emotional abuse and controlling behaviors by an intimate partner. In Uganda, 60% of ever-married women have experienced at least one form IPV. Some have even died in the process.

The one question people often ask of survivors of domestic violence is: “Why do/did you stay in an abusive relationship?” Why doesn’t she just leave?” Sometimes the question is meant as an honest inquiry.  However, often it is spoken with an undercurrent of hostility or disbelief—sendinga message that women who stay in abusive relationships are somehow to blame for their abuse. This is not often the case, and unless there is an understanding of these factors, the fight against violence against women remains incomplete.

To begin with, no woman ever wants her marriage not to work. Nearly all survivors of domestic violence will tell us this. One of the reasons they will remain in this relationship is fear. Fear for the public perception that she didn’t do enough to keep her marriage; fear that the partner will spread horrible rumors about her; fear that the partner might hunt her down and kill her and many other fears.

The other reason is concerns about the children. Every mother has a special attachment to her children that it can never be an easy decision to ‘abandon’ them. The abused woman might also be deeply attached to her partner. The attachment might evolve from the marriage vows they made to each other, the religious beliefs about divorce, or the past good moments. Some women may be economically dependent on their partners that they can’t imagine a life without the husband. She keeps hoping for change.

Some of our cultures tend to send the message that a woman’s value depends on her being in a relationship.  Women without partners tend to be devalued, worse still if they divorced. Some women are taught that how it’s their responsibility to maintain the relationship and support their partners, so they may feel guilty about leaving or feel they have “failed.”  Consequently, wife-beating is, in some communities, taken as normal and acceptable. And as a result, many people turn a “deaf ear” to marital violence and believe that what goes on behind closed doors is a “private matter.”

That said, Josephine had overcome all these and many other barriers. She had left her abusive husband and re-located to her parents’ home, only to be killed at the gate by the very husband she had run away from. This brings a question into the equation: what safety plans do we have for survivors of violence against women?