REMI East Africa – The Health Equity Voice
Our founder, Rose Mary Nakame, works as a nurse, on the frontlines of communities with low resource settings in the rural areas of Uganda. Through this, her eyes were opened opened to the lack of access to what works in those regions as current public health work continues to reflect the missed opportunities on decision making tables to listen to those at the frontlines of health care or their inability to fully participate. Recognizing this challenge, she initiated The Health Equity Voice project, which has been in a pilot phase for 2-years being implemented together with the team at REMI East Africa. This project has trained rural health workers to harness the power of storytelling, the most powerful tool of communication on the African continent to disseminate what works and advocate for the address of the challenges, highlighted the stories on a blog and used them to engage the public and relevant stakeholders.
Advocacy can never be sustained without grassroots advocates who can exemplify and champion the strengthening of the health system to deliver quality care to the poorest of the poor.
The COVID-19 Pandemic has affected both rich and poor but its greatest effect is going to be on weaker health systems in Low and Middle-Income countries, including Uganda. In these times, it will be hard to understand what can work in very resource constrained settings without severe loss of live. That is why our major storytelling focus will shift to call for stories reflecting the best practices and challenges the rural health workers are facing in responding to this Pandemic and how they are adapting.
We will ensure that in the poorest communities there will be access health care, work to support mental health support for health workers who get infected with COVID-19 at the front-line, and support well-being for patients and caregivers in isolation and quarantine. In addition, we will support dissemination of prevention measures at community level using local and online methods. And as the whole world seeks to know what works and does not work, there is going to be a real need for health workers in those rural communities not yet hit to learn from those who have gone before them. Here we will harness the power of storytelling for advocacy as a preparedness measure.
Above all, our project was designed to reflect the importance of equitable health information in strengthening health systems and at the time when World Health Organization is calling on all stakeholders and governments to avail more information, its like they are re-echoing our core mission on this project.