AFFORD was a five-year program created to implement new strategies to improve the health of Ugandans. To be able to sustain the operations, an indigenous organization called Uganda Health Marketing Group (UHMG) was formed. With funding from USAID, UHMG together with other AFFORD partners utilized innovative marketing strategies to achieve broad Public Health impact across Uganda. Communication for Development Foundation Uganda (CDFU), one of the partners in AFFORD project, managed the Popular Opinion Leaders’ (POLs’) intervention. CDFU provided strategic communication support in community mobilization through the POLs. Working with community members, the POL intervention identified and trained well regarded and influential people to advocate for health services and practices in their own communities.
Based in local communities, POLs are volunteers whose work supported the “Good Life” communication campaign. They utilized opportunities in their communities such as gatherings at places of worship, social events, celebrations, peer group and local council meetings to provide accurate information related to health, promote utilisation of AFFORD/UHMG products and refer community members to health service points. Due to understaffing in most health facilities, POLs voluntarily contributed their time during clinic days to conduct growth monitoring and register patients/clients. Key discussions conducted by POLs focused on HIV&AIDS, malaria, family planning, child health, Gender & Health. CDFU established partnerships with 36 CBPOs in 17 districts. The POL intervention was implemented across 44 Sub Counties in the selected districts across all regions of Uganda. POLs worked closely with health service providers and increased confidence in the communities’ health seeking behaviours. A POL in Kanungu district said that the training and the frequent health talks she makes about family planning has greatly changed her. “I used to produce almost every year but since I became a POL, I space my children and even now my youngest is three years and I have just got pregnant again.’(POL from Kanungu District)
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