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Health-Links promote access to sexual & reproductive health care services & safety measures to girls, women in IDP,refugee camps in N.Uganda

Providing health assistance, coordination, intervention address sexual & reproductive health risks, supporting gaps facing refugee women.

Photo of Obua Godfrey
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What specific problem(s) are you trying to address?

Lack of access by girls and women to social services, especially health, information and training on health issues in conflict affected areas; Violence against women, domestic violence, sexual harassment, trafficking, rape and defilement; Vulnerability to health risks by girls and women, besides the practice of newborn baby abandonment common in towns across the affected areas; Shortages of health workers in the conflict affected region.

What are some of your unanswered questions about the problem(s) you are working to address?

What shifts in the world health occurred over the last twenty years? What happened in the northern Uganda and South Sudan in this period? What factors contributed to a worsening position in sexual and reproductive health for girls and women in northern Uganda and South Sudan? What has happened to access to health facilities in these regions? What has been the impact of this at the household level? Why have girls and women become more vulnerable to health risks in the region?

Explain Your Idea

Health-Links is an intervention to address sexual and reproductive health risks and supporting gaps facing refugee women and girls who may lack access to health services or engage in sex work in northern Uganda. We train female community health assistants and coordinators, and educators, to help as researchers, consult with girls and women on all matters/health issues which concern them, and fill the gaps where armed conflicts or some cultural factors may also severely limit their access to health services, like in cases where women are restricted from consulting male health workers, as well as lacking time to visit health units or risks of insecurity, and in addition meet women’s special needs such as privacy, which are determined by social norms, are often not met in the services offered by male health workers; peer researchers interact with women on issues, such as social identity, health and illness, sexual behaviour, reproductive behaviour, access to services and their rights. We address violence against women through class sessions, education and training involving men and women, including running special programmes on media houses, such as local radio stations and others. We also reduce vulnerability to health risks facing refugees girls and women, based on our research findings which enable us to develop new programme approaches to reach more vulnerable and marginalized groups identified by research, including utilizing peer networks to reach girls and women at place

Name the three most important ways that your idea will address your identified problem(s).

Use of peer educators, trained as peer researchers to undertake data collection to be used in the intervention to improve access to health facilities, information and training; Establishment of female-friendly counselling centres in the community, government clinics, camps or IDPs convenient corners and deploying trained peer educators to lead discussions with peer groups in the community, including setting peer networks; Providing education session involving both men and women aim to reduce violence against women, and provide counselling for all youth in youth-friendly centres across the areas affected by armed conflicts, including reducing the practice of newborn baby abandonment common around towns within the affected regions.

How is your idea unique?

We take an evidence informed and rights-based approach in strengthening skills, knowledge and capacity to investigate sexual and reproductive health problems, besides gender-based violence risks and improve health and safety through community empowerment approach, peer education and peer-led facts findings, counselling and guidance; Use of community-based distribution of free condoms among peer networks; Use of community drama to reach out of school youth with information; Increased advocacy on behalf of young people on access to quality drugs for sexually transmitted disease (STDs); Provide health kits to girls and women, including placement to health facilities and free HIV/AIDS test for all, including coordination and referral of patients for treatment; Provide rape women with contraceptives within 48 hours, with HIV/AIDS testing; We carry out post HIV/AIDS exposure prophylaxis and provide first aids kits for physical injuries through trained community health assistants

What are some outstanding concerns or questions that you have regarding your idea?

Who should need to be involved in assessing and collection of data? Which key stakeholder will the project work with to ensure success in the interventions? Are there financial support to scale the full project interventions?

Who are your end users?

The target groups include women and girls: Teenage pregnancy or young mothers under 19; Have been subject to child, early or forced marriage; Live where there is no health facilities within reach because of lack of health infrastructure or no accessibility due to insecurity; Who are homeless, street kids or orphans; Are disabled or affected by a long-term illness.

Where will your idea be implemented?

  • Uganda

What is the primary type of emergency setting where your innovation would operate?

  • Armed conflict
  • Prolonged displacement

Tell us more about the emergency setting that you intend to implement in

areas affected by armed conflicts and in a post war situation.

What is your organization's name?

Rural women and Youth Coordination

Tell us more about you.

I am Mr. Godfrey Obua, project manager of community-based NGO-RWYC. Yes, we welcome collaboration from like minded people globally. We shall implement Idea in full scale project with funding support. This is project on its own but works hand in hand with all local, national and international partners where necessary. We are based in Lira northern Uganda, where there are hundreds of thousands of refugees influx from South Sudan, but northern has a post war effects on sexual and reproductive health and risks. RWYC is an initiatives of Women and Youth as marginalised groups to help promote access to all social services, health, productive, education,etc. Our peer to peer approach and past experiences has always led to great impacts.

Organizational Characteristics

  • Women-led organization

What is the current scale of your proposed innovation?

  • National - expansive reach within 1 country

Experience in Implementation Country(ies)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

Expertise in Sector

  • Yes, for more than a year.

Organization Location

Lira, Northern, Uganda

What is your organizational status?

  • Registered non-profit, charity, NGO, or community-based organization.

What is the maturity of your innovation?

  • Roll-out/Ready to Scale: Completed a pilot and am ready / in process of expanding.
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Attachments (2)


detailed proposal


detail of peer research approach


Join the conversation:

Photo of Eunice Kajala

Hi Obua, just to add few points, you have mentioned about addressing cultural factors limiting access to health services, addressing the cultural factors, you will need to mobilize and engage community members, educating them, advocacy on your program.Gather more men to educate on the importance of your program, educate them on the issues of gender based violence.Looking at our culture, door to door visits may not be suitable for male health assistants, occasionally female visitors.Try to make few adjustments in your idea.

Photo of Obua Godfrey

Hi Eunice,
Thank you for your comments and the additions. Yes, there is need to consider various issues, as far as sexual and reproductive health is concerned.
But we already have some experience involved the peer research approach as well as educating communities, involving men and women on various issues including educating girls, access to land by women and more. I think I made mentioned of this somewhere in proposal as well.
In this case the peer research approach is to create a teamwork of researchers for in depth facts finding by use of people already recognized by their communities, through trust and rapport, to help us breakthrough what would be the barriers to the problems, in order to get the truth of the problems around sexual and reproductive health in conflict areas and since age groups would also matter, in collecting this data too.
So the peer researchers selected from the various ethnic groups would be working as door to door within their various groupings, take their own time to interview peer groups with whom they mix socially and would enable us in:
Mobilization, providing information- awareness, which would enable us in screening to identify the various problems, like cancer cases, STDs, and more. We shall then need to referrals, placements for further care, and others. Still those who would not be having problems in regards to the above would benefit from awareness training on health and safety measures, including family planning and others.
Now for your people, in northern Uganda, since they are now integrated with our people, we shall still have opportunity to do our research in the same way, although it may take us some time. But we share some traditional norms with some of the ethnic groups in your region-South Sudan, and we shall continue to consult as many experts as possible, including you as well, OK. Because, as far as I know, we can provide other necessities, like water, food, clothing to people in conflict affected areas quite easily as long as they are available, BUT, sexual and reproductive health is far from all these cases, as it is case sensitive in most ethnic groupings globally, so you would need some tactical approach in order to achieve what you want to.
Please keep them coming and more additions are welcome.
Thank you for reading and please have a nice time.
Godfrey Obua

Photo of Ashley Tillman

Hi Obua, great to see you in the Challenge! It sounds like your organizations already doing some great work in the space. Would love to learn a little more about what works already being done and what would be new with this specific proposal? Also would love to learn a little bit more about your questions and needs with regards to data collection and analysis?

Looking forward to learning more!

Photo of Obua Godfrey

Hi Ashley Tillman,
Thanks a lot for your comments. Many say no one project solves problems
Please find more below:
RWYC has empowered communities through peer researchers & educators as front-line health workers by designing and implementing effective, low-cost, hands-on solutions to strengthen the delivery and promoting access to sexual and reproductive health care services for girls & women and their families, in conflict affected areas in northern Uganda. By Putting evidence based health care services and safety education through peer- to peer innovations into everyday practice. Selected community representatives, (peer researchers) are trained with health care knowledge, information and communication skills to collect health data from their particular peer community, building up a community of practice on health issue. The data collected from the various groups of communities enable us to assess the needs and health issues to be addressed, in addition, it will enable us to decide what our approaches take into account for the intervention. We would also know which key personnel or experts need to be contracted, to include in the team, health workers, such as nurses, a doctor, senior staff or we remain with our trained health assistants and coordinators and carry out referrals and placements for further care as usual or both.
Why peer to peer approach?
Universally, it is believed that ladies are not supposed to leave their breasts bare or men are not supposed to see ladies’ breasts. Besides, in our traditional norms, ladies’ privacy can only be shared among themselves, or between peer groups, or close relatives, like mother, sister, or mother-in law, and no man is supposed to see a naked woman or her private parts, under whatsoever circumstances, this has since created a mindset. So, when we talk of sexual and reproductive health, then we are talking about a very sensitive issue. Even today, male doctors say they still have a big challenge handling sick women. A few days ago on a doctor’s programme on some local radio, a doctor said, a lady came to see him, and told him that she had some headache, yet she was suffering from some scars on her private parts, and another who had complicated abortion a few days before, told him she had severe waist pains, started yesterday, and that she was seeing some blood in her urine. When asked whether she is pregnant, the answer was no, and whether she missed her periods, she said no, but seeing her condition, the doctor had to call a female nurse to examine her, and again she had to tell the female nurse the real matter. Although, we still have very few female nurses or health workers either because very few women are educated or in the past, most girls feared sciences as difficult subjects to study. To this end, to intervene in helping girls and women in the conflict affected situations, we would need reliable data, which can only be collected by peer researchers who are selected from among the community themselves and are already recognized, trusted and free with them, as in the same situations, girls and women being in such a situation are psychologically tortured, hence, would not like any male strangers to approach them, whether for good or bad. So peer to peer research is encouraged to promote straight talks among the community and lead to a breakthrough for most of these sensitive health challenges and norms.
Sexual and reproductive health of girls and women is part of health being undermined in Africa, more especially in areas affected by armed conflicts, although health is universally regarded as a primary necessity. The world health organisation defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, which include sexual and reproductive health and rights.
How we promote sexual and reproductive rights to enable communities to stay healthy.
There are several ways in which RWYC seeks to improve sexual and reproductive health and prevent illness and disease:
Trained community health assistants and coordinators, selected from each group of community, who are recognized by community, through trust and rapport, also work as peer researchers are the first point of contact for people with sexual and reproductive health complaints and they play a key role in improving, supporting, promoting and coordinating sexual and reproductive health and preventive care. In addition, we also work to ensure all babies and infants are vaccinated against diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, polio and others, besides screening, for example, for breast cancer, to help detect health risks at an early stage.
To promote sexual and reproductive health of the vulnerable groups, like girls, and women in conflict situations, we are seeing a shift towards care in the community. The focus is no longer on the illness alone but the person with the illness, who wants to lead as independent a life as possible, given the state of their mind or psychological torture.

Photo of Eunice Kajala

Hi Obua,what exactly are the peer researchers doing? Collecting data, analyzing and making evidence based decisions? Do they provide sexual health information and services?