Challenges Faced by Village Health Teams (VHTs) in Amuru, Gulu and Pader Districts in Northern Uganda


Primary health care provision through innovative community level interventions such as the Village Health Team (VHT) concept in Uganda can be a rational way of achieving universal access to healthcare. This cross-sectional study interviewed 150 VHT members and 16 key informants in three districts in Northern Uganda to establish the roles of VHTs, the service gaps encountered and the measures in place to address these gaps. Quantitative data were analyzed using SPSS 16.0. Direct content analysis of themes of transcribed qualitative data was conducted manually for common codes. The majority of the respondents 64.29% (n = 72) reported to have been VHT volunteers for more than 5 years. Among the roles were community mobilization reported by 99.1% (n = 111) and home visiting of individuals reported by 97.3% (n = 109). Lack of transport, motivation, adequate skills and community appreciation with nearly no measures in place to counteract the challenges was reported by almost all respondents. Although the VHT concept can be a significant means of achieving universal access to primary health care, extensive community involvement and motivation of the volunteers are highly needed for a maximum benefit.

Share and Cite:

Kimbugwe, G. , Mshilla, M. , Oluka, D. , Nalikka, O. , Kyangwa, J. , Zalwango, S. , Kilizza, U. , Turyasiima, M. , Ntambazi, L. , Walugembe, F. and Galiwango, J. (2014) Challenges Faced by Village Health Teams (VHTs) in Amuru, Gulu and Pader Districts in Northern Uganda. Open Journal of Preventive Medicine, 4, 740-750. doi: 10.4236/ojpm.2014.49084.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Uganda Village Project (2012) Village Health Teams. Kampala, Uganda.
[2] Uganda Program Brochure (2012) Health in Uganda. Retrieved on 16th Feb 2012 at 10:00 p.m.
[3] Village Health Team Training Manual (2012) A Village Health Team Collection. Retrieved on 16th Feb 2012 at 10:08 p.m.
[4] Ministry of Health (MoH) (2012) VHT Strategy and Operational Guidelines (March 2010). Retrieved on 18th Feb 2012 at 12:20 p.m.
[5] Bender, D.E. and Pitkin, K. (1987) Bridging the Gap: The Village Health Worker as the Cornerstone of the Primary Health Care Model. Social Science & Medicine, 24, 515-528.
[6] Gillam, S.S. (2008) Is the Declaration of Alma Ata Still Relevant to Primary Health Care? British Medical Journal, 336, 536-538.
[7] World Health Organization (WHO) (1978) International Conference on Primary Health Care. Retrieved on 15 February 2012.
[8] Nyasuna, A.J.-F. (2011) The Ugandan Government’s Commitment to the Right to Health: A Focus on Village Health Teams (VHT) and the Rural Poor. Graduate School of Development Studies, International Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, Netherlands.
[9] Innocent, K. (2007) The Village Health Team Strategy Is a “Most Innovative Community Practice” Award Winner: The Experience Of a Village Volunteer Programme in Yumbe District, Uganda. Health Policy and Development, 5, 23-29.
[10] Ministry of Health (MoH) (2010) Health Sector Strategic Plan III 2010/2011-2014/15. Kampala, Uganda. Retrieved on 10th Feb 2012 at 11:45 a.m.
[11] Kiwanuka, S., Ekirapa, E., Peterson, S., Okui, O., Rahman, M.H., Peters, D., et al. (2008) Access to and Utilisation of Health Services for the Poor in Uganda: A Systematic Review of Available Evidence. Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 102, 1067-1074.
[12] Rhode, J. and Wyon, J. (2002) Community Based Health Care: Lessons from Bangladesh to Boston. Management Science for Health, Boston, USA.
[13] Ministry of Health (MoH) (2007) Annual Health Sector Performance Report. Ministry of Health, Kampala, Uganda.
[14] Fritzen, S.A. (2007) Strategic Management of the Health Workforce in Developing Countries: What Have We Learned? Human Resources for Health, 5, 4.
[15] United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) (2009) Situational Analysis on VHTs in Uganda.

Copyright © 2022 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.