The community health volunteers movement has proved to be an effective instrument in awareness-raising campaigns in rural areas. Since the first round of training during 2012-2015, more than 1,644 community health volunteers have been working in the remote areas of Karakalpakstan. The volunteers are residents of local communities who spread the knowledge about the types of diseases prevalent in the region, their symptoms, preventive measures and importance of timely medical checkups.
The training is designed in close cooperation with the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Karakalpakstan. Its objective is to prepare skilled and knowledgeable volunteers, able to work independently with their home communities.
The scope of the recent campaign was extended, and in addition to lung diseases it was augmented by training modules on respiratory, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal diseases, and a separate module on maternal and child health.
Community health volunteers during the training in Munyak district of the Republic of Karakalpakstan, Uzbekistan. (UNV, 2018)
According to Gulnara Japakova, UN Volunteer Training Coordination Specialist, what makes the trainings particularly successful is the participation of medical professionals. They engage in the coaching process, together with UNV representatives, and provide competent answers, help participants to master their first aid skills, teach them how to measure blood pressure, children’s weight and height, and calculate drug dosage.
Besides thematic modules on different groups of diseases, training participants are briefed on the principles of volunteering, work planning and community mapping.
As a UN Volunteer, I am delighted to have the opportunity to help the local population in the region by increasing their awareness of health issues. My personal contribution is in conveying the information on the importance of the early stage disease diagnostic which helps to reduce the mortality rates in the region. --Gulnara Japakova, UN Volunteer Training Coordination Specialist
In order to ensure the sustainability of the volunteer-led activities, keep the pool of community volunteers in the healthcare sector and involve them in future healthcare initiatives in the field, the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Karakalpakstan endorsed an internal structure for coordination of community volunteer activities.
The integration of this structure contributes to keep the volunteers motivated and active, to coordinate their activities in cooperation with nurses in their communities on monthly basis, learn their results achieved and best practices.
Another important aspect of expansion of volunteerism is involving youth in volunteering. As a result of established close cooperation of the project with the Ministry of Health and the higher education bodies to institutionalize volunteerism in Karakalpakstan, a course on volunteerism was adopted by the Nukus State Paedagogical Institute and was integrated into the curriculum.
Every year, more than 1,000 students of this institute will be able to better their knowledge about volunteerism, the role and importance of volunteering for development, and ensuring healthy lifestyles among youth and population.