A visit was made to the ACCESS school for Community Health Nurses in the rural Nakaseke district, just north of Kampala. This school will be supported by the donations received via GlobalGiving. The ACCESS school has a class size of 26 students, which will be scaled up to 50 students during the coming academic year. Each student undergoes a one-year training period followed by a 6-month internship at an institution selected by the student and approved by the school. The students who study at ACCESS typically come from rural areas, and once they graduate, they usually return to practice in their home rural communities. This trend is further encouraged by the depth of exposure the students get to rural community practice in Nakaseke.
During the visit to the school by the health workforce officer of the CapacityPlus project, a tour of the premises was conducted. This involved a survey of the existing infrastructure including classrooms, dormitories, and clinical facilities. A trip was also made to the Nakaseke hospital where the students receive clinical experience and to the community where many of the graduates practice. The experience revealed ACCESS to be an extremely useful source of human resources for health to the community, despite the dearth of resources it faces. Officials and clinicans at the Nakaseke rural hospital, as also members within the community testified to the value that the graduates from the ACCESS school bring to the community. They serve as a point of first contact for health care within the community. The ACCESS community health nurses treat a number of common illnesses at the local level itself, and where not possible perform the important function of triage. Their value is especially relevant now since the government plans on setting up village health teams with community health workers, where the ACCESS graduates' training and level of experience would make them ideal candidates to fulfil this role.
The infrastructure of the school needs a lot of support. The classrooms, the dormitories, the toilets, the fencing need to be significantly renovated. The plans to scale up the number of students trained every year by almost 100% will also require additional investment. The support being received from our valued donors at GlobalGiving have allowed us to help the ACCESS school enroll addiitonal students at no increased cost to the students. This enables deserving and needy students the opportunity to study to be community health nurses and help not just themselves and their families, but have a profound impact on the entire community.
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Deputy Director, CapacityPlus