A total of 150 Voucher Plus Community Based Distributors [VPCBD] in Eastern region have received buffalo bicycles with a warning to them not to use the rides for boda-boda business.
The bicycles were on Wednesday handed over to the beneficiaries at Engulu Medical Associates in Soroti by USAID Uganda Voucher Plus Activity (the Activity) led by Abt Associates, a project which operates in 30 districts in the Northern and Eastern regions.
The handover ceremony held under the Theme “Improving Community Health System for Better Maternal and Child Health Services Utilization”, was officiated over by the acting commissioner health services health promotions, education and communication in the ministry of Health, Richard Kabanda.
Christine Namayanja, the Chief of Party USAID Uganda Voucher Plus Activity, said the bicycles were produced by World Bicycle Rally at a tune of 150 US Dollars to support the implementation of USAID/Uganda Voucher plus activities.
Voucher plus works with private health providers to enable access to quality maternal services by selling a lifesaving voucher to poor pregnant mothers at Uganda shillings 4000.
With this voucher, a pregnant mother is able to attend four antenatal care visits, get services for elimination of mother-child HIV transmission, deliver with skilled attendant including referral if needed and receive postnatal care and postpartum family planning (PPFD).
According to Namayanja, their main objective of giving out the bicycles to CBD is to help them link with the communities especially the pregnant mothers.
She said the voucher community based distributors (VCBD) are tasked to move out to the communities for outreach programs, visiting the sick to give them treatment, offer counseling, and embrace them to feel cared for.
Francis Ojakol, peer voucher community based distributor who benefited from the bicycles says, “i’m so much excited after receiving the bicycle and i promise to remain committed to my work’.
He also pledged to serve the community without any reservation.
Scovia Cheptock from Kapchorwa said the bicycles have come at a time when there are rampant cases of mothers delivering from traditional birth attendants due to ignorance.
Irene Alupo, another peer voucher community based distributor from Kumi district observed that some of the VCBDs have got bigger villages which they could not manage on foot and believes that the offer is a big boost to them.
However, Wilberforce Tukei, the RDC Soroti challenged the community based distributors to observe discipline and make proper use of the bicycles to address the noble course for which they have been donated.
He observed that in the past, VCBDs received bicycles from government and other organizations but some ended up exchanging them with cattle for marrying women which he said “must stop”.
“Those who will be tempted to sell off the bicycles shall be dealt with accordingly,” said Tukei, adding that “those who may keep the bicycles well may end up getting motorcycles in future”.
Meanwhile, Richard Kabanda, the acting commissioner health services, health promotion, education and communication commends USAID for supporting the government of Uganda in health related issues.
He said the Ugandan Ministry of Health (MOH) is committed to ending preventable maternal and child deaths.
The commissioner recognized that in order to achieve this, Uganda must increase the role of the private sector in expanding quality services for mothers and babies.
Achievements of USAID Uganda Voucher Plus Activities.
In the first two and a half years of the activity, the team distributed approximately 150,000 vouchers, leading to almost 70 percent attendance at the first antenatal care visit and 60,000 births with skilled attendants.
The participating providers tested nearly 100 percent of mothers for HIV and guided them to treatment (some treated on-site, some referred).
The activity engaged local health officials in various activities to improve their understanding of output-based financing mechanisms and how they could support private providers.
The activity has also invested in continuous learning and adaptation to respond to challenges and adapt programming to improve outcomes.
To this end, the activity is preparing a series of knowledge and learning briefs on how output-based financing strategies can contribute to increased quality.
Further, the activity also contributes evidence to the MOH’s results-based financing initiative, and supports the MOH as it improves access to quality health services.