Improving Access to Care: Safe for SAFE Health
Another primary obstacle women and families face when they need to access medical care is their ability to pay for that care. Although health care is supposed to be free in Uganda, supply shortages and backed-pay for healthcare workers often mean that patients must pay for their care anyways. Additionally, women are expected to bring (and pay for) their own delivery supplies--gloves, cotton, razor (for cutting the umbilical cord), a "covera" (big plastic sheet to deliver the baby on), and more. They must also pay for transport to get to the facility, and cover the cost of food and water while they are at the facility. Yet, most of the people living in SAFE's partner communities are very poor, living on less than $1/day.
SAFE addresses this in several ways, including the "Save for SAFE Deliveries" and "Save for SAFE Families" projects, in which community groups make small blue wooden savings boxes and sell them to women and families for use during daily savings.
We then try to cultivate a "savings culture" in which families are encouraged in both one-on-one sessions and large community gatherings to save in preparation for health emergencies. On average, women in one village saved 30,000 shillings for their deliveries, which was more than enough to cover what they needed.
"The roads are not good. They are full of holes. And from here, they can charge you expensively, just because of the road. You may find that you even sell your things from home..."
-- Husband, father of 7