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2016-08_dc

28 D+C  e-Paper  August 2016 the health facilities and health workers to be trained. She was thus actually more a facilitator than a direc- tor. The project had several strong points: ■ ■ It addressed an important tropical disease that is normally neglected. ■ ■ It reached out to rural people in their own language and in a culturally appropriate way. ■ ■ It was very cost efficient. ■ ■ It relied on – and contributed to further developing the capacities of – local institutions, including of course the health facilities concerned and the radio station itself. ■ ■ It’s impact will be sustained thanks to the increased competence of both the local health staff and the radio team. It is noteworthy, moreover, that the skin camps did not only contribute to raising awareness for the fight against leprosy. The project actually achieved more than that because it promoted skin health in general and increased the reputation of science-based health facilities. Info booklet for health staff. Herman Joseph Kawuma is GLRA Medical Advisor for Uganda. [email protected] Linking theoretical learning and practical experience All too often, local health staff are not familiar with neglected tropical diseases. In Uganda, for example, they need to know about leprosy. “Yes, I have seen this kind of skin patches many times before, but I did not know that this could be leprosy.” This is what Anges Okwori said, when Eli Ogang of Uganda’s National TB and Leprosy Programme (NTLP) put on display some pictures during a presentation at a district health facility in Oyam. Okwori works there as a nurse, and Ogang was giving her team a one-day training on leprosy. The next day, they would all take part in a skin camp that was hosted in the context of the Talking Health project (see main article). Ogang’s lecture included all issues of immediate relevance to the district-level health workers – from the first symptoms of simple skin irritation, to the measurement of the loss of sensation with probes, to the treatment regiments and the many ways of reha- bilitation, should patients have already developed disabilities. Lost toes and fingers don’t grow back, of course, but a patient’s quality life can benefit from tailor-made orthopaedic appliances like special sandals, for exam- ple. Moreover, further damage to limbs that have lost their sensitivity can be prevented. The team was not only informed about the causes, signs, diagnosis and management of the disease, but also briefed on the social impact such as stigmatisa- tion and exclusion from communities. The ultimate goal, after all, is to rehabilitate patients and enable them to live good lives in spite of their affliction. At the skin camp one day later, the team applied the newly gained knowledge. Several hundred patients came to the event, and in difficult cases, the local health-staff consulted the expert who had come to Oyam for this event from the regional referral hospi- tal in Lira. Linking theoretical learning with practical experience helps to build lasting knowledge that is not forgotten as fast as abstract insights normally are. After the skin camp, Okwori said: “I can now tell the difference between allergies, bacterial infections and fungal infection. Before, I would just treat them like fungal infections.” Talking Health Olaf Hirschmann was the country representative for GLRA (DAHW, Deutsche Lepra und Tuberkulosehilfe e. V.) in Uganda and South Sudan from October 2011 until March 2016. [email protected]

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