Uganda: Co-op delivers local, reliable health care

One day the chairperson of the burial society in Keneema Joseline’s village of Sigirira told her about a new way to access health care – by joining Ankole Diocese Health Cooperative. To join, all she needed to do was pay a small amount for her family members before they fell sick. That way, Keneema wouldn’t have to pay even more money when they did become ill.

Keneema Joseline and children in Uganda.Ankole Diocese Health Cooperative is one of the locally owned health cooperatives in Uganda promoted by HealthPartners, under a program funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). As members, people like Keneema Joseline and her family, get access to quality health care at an affordable cost.

Members pay inexpensive quarterly premiums and a small co-payment at the time of a visit. In return, they get access to the health care they need – when they need it. Currently, more than 46,000 people have enrolled and are benefitting from earlier treatment and improved health outcomes as a result of their health cooperative membership.

Keneema, who is 38 and married, is the main caregiver for her four children and the wage earner in her family. When she heard about the health care co-op, she was skeptical and decided to continue using the government-operated health facility in her area.

Before long, one of her children became ill, and they went to the government facility. They were turned away because it was lunchtime and the health workers were on break. Instead, she went to a private clinic, which was closer than the next government clinic. She was asked to pay, but didn’t have the money. To cover her bill, she made a deal with a millet trader – selling food meant for her family to pay the clinic.

That’s when she and all her family members joined the Sigirira Twetambire/health co-op. Not only have they received care, but also disease-prevention education during member meetings, which Keneema credits with the ongoing good health of her and her family.

“The co-op has helped me save money, too,” Keneema said. “I am able to provide for my family because I am not spending so much on health care. I thank God for all this, I thank Ibanda mission health workers, and I thank the people who have brought this program to our village.”

Learn more about HealthPartners and its sustainable international cooperative development. HealthPartners is a member of the U.S. Overseas Development Council. Follow OCDC on LinkedIn and HealthPartners on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Posted 6/21/16