Training community health workers in rural Uganda

The International Primary Care Respiratory Group (IPCRG) has launched a project to introduce stop smoking interventions in rural Uganda. The group will train community health workers (CHWs), create educational materials and utilize technology. Results and knowledge learned from the project will be shared in an effort to build capacity for stop smoking interventions in other low and middle income countries (LMICs). The IPCRG also plans to contribute data from the project to the body of evidence on the effectiveness of such interventions in LMICs.

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The project is one of 19 grants awarded through a partnership between Pfizer Independent Grants for Learning & Change (IGLC) and Global Bridges. The $2.3 million in grant awards are designed to increase tobacco cessation rates through healthcare professional training and advocacy in low- and middle-income countries.

Specifically, the project aims to:

  1. Develop a cascading and sustainable ‘train the trainers’ module that will be used to train Masindi district community health workers (CHWs) and health care workers in improving lung health including facilitating stopping tobacco use and reducing exposure to indoor biomass smoke.
  2. Create with CHWs educational materials that they can use with their local communities to support people to stop using tobacco and reduce their other risks to lung health.
  3. Train CHWs and health care workers in supporting people to stop using tobacco through interventions that are adapted to the local cultural and economic conditions and are feasible to implement in the context of Masindi District.
  4. Provide on-going support to CHWs using mobile telephone technology.
  5. Integrate these activities into a larger IPCRG supported programme to improve lung health including physical activity and rehabilitation.
  6. Identify and share the learning from the project using the Global Bridges network and the IPCRG knowledge platform in order to build capacity for interventions that facilitate stopping tobacco use in other low and middle income countries (LMICs).
  7. Contribute to developing the evidence base on effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of interventions to facilitate stopping tobacco use in LMICs.

Project Status Update

Dr. Bruce J. Kirenga of Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, and a pulmonologist at Mulago Hospital, leads the project. Thus far, the project team is finalizing training curriculum and materials and staff have been trained on specific activities. Project leaders have visited the project site and held meetings  with the Masindi District Health Officer and other community contacts. The health infrastructure in the Masindi district is widely dispersed so the team is selecting CHWs to work in these sparse areas.

The team reports that startup activities are going well although there have been some challenges with finding educational materials and curricula used in Africa. As a result, the team is creating new materials for use during the project.

The project has also received positive feedback from Masindi district political leaders.