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Sanitary Pad Manufacturing Plant Set to Improve the Lives of 50,000 Ugandan girls and women

Tuesday, 17 January 2023 20:39 Written by
Students (girls) from selected Government aided school, Mackay College
School Nateete making a presentation to the invited guests at the launch
of the Keep A Girl In School Campaign in April, 2019.

Up to 50,000 Ugandan lives will be significantly improved after the Ugandan Red Cross Society partnered with a UK charitable foundation to build a manufacturing plant for re-usable sanitary pads.

Thanks to significant grant funding from the Randal Charitable Foundation the plant in Namakwa, Mukono district of Uganda, will also create employment opportunities for over 200 vulnerable girls and women who will be trained to make and market the pads. Once fully established the plant will manufacture 200,000 re-usable pads per year, which is an equivalent of 50,000 4-pad packs. Around 20 percent of the pads will be given to 10,000 vulnerable girls in-school free of charge. The remaining 80 percent will be commercialised to 40,000 girls and women in the wider community at a subsidised price, which will ensure the long-term sustainability of the manufacturing facility.

Dr Nik Kotecha OBE DL, Founder and Chair of Trustees of the Randal Charitable Foundation, said: “Our mission is to directly save and significantly improve the lives of the most vulnerable in society in the UK and globally. “This project is so beneficial to the community because without access to high quality sanitary pads and toilets, or washrooms for changing, many girls and women are not able to go far from their homes.

“The consequence of this is that they often cannot attend school, and in many cases become trapped in their homes unable to earn a living to support their families.
“We are delighted with our partnership with the Ugandan Red Cross Society because the manufacturing facility will have the dual benefits of ensuring girls are able to stay in school to gain a good education, and in many cases a future free of extreme poverty. It will also deliver sustainable skilled employment to the women and girls involved in the production and sale of the pads.”

Uganda Red Cross society launching the Keep A Girl in School initiative

The grant funding will support the setting up of the manufacturing facility to produce re-usable sanitary pads and the training and up-skilling of selected girls and women to make them. It will then fund capacity building to involve more girls and women in specific skills, such as record keeping and marketing, as well as support supervision and monitoring. After acquiring the required production skills, each female trainee is targeted to produce 50 reusable pads per day, which equates to 1,000 per year. Once the first group of 20 trainees have mastered the skills to produce the reusable pads, they will then recruit another group of 20 to expand their labour force.

The project is part of a collaboration between the Uganda Red Cross Society and the Ministry of Education & Sports and partners, which in 2019 launched a countrywide initiative named Keep a Girl in School. The main aim of this project is to improve Menstrual Health Management among Primary and Secondary School going adolescents in vulnerable communities.

During the implementation of the project, URCS is partnering with She for She, which is an indigenous organisation whose goal is to ensure that every menstruator can attend school by improving access to pads and providing comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights education.

She for She has experience in training community groups to sew pads and partnering with established local organisations to provide education and dialogue on menstruation and related Menstrual Hygiene Management. While the first set of materials will be imported, the Society will advocate for in-country factories to start producing the materials locally.

Robert Kwesiga, Secretary General of the Uganda Red Cross Society, said: “I would like to thank the Randal Charitable Foundation for their significant support for the humanitarian cause to keep more girls in school through manufacturing, good sanitation, and provision of pads.

“As a result of a lack of access to hygienic sanitary wear, girls and women in the community often resort to using inappropriate materials such as rugs torn from their old clothes, papers, pieces of old mattress foam and leaves. And in some cases, in rural communities, they become house bound, and forced to sit over a hole dug in the middle of their mud floors until the menstrual flow ends. School going girls who get blood on their clothes are also often teased by teachers, boys, or other girls, and this has been reported as a significant cause of school dropouts for girls. “

Keep a Girl in School is also part of the Uganda Red Cross Society Health and Social Service Agenda under Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Interventions – which plays a crucial role around key issues such as health, education, protection and security of women and adolescent girls, both in emergency and in the development context.

To find out more about the Randal Charitable Foundation visit www.randalfoundation.org.uk

Uganda Red Cross Society community-based approaches see Uganda pass the 7th wave of the Ebola Viral Disease.

Friday, 13 January 2023 13:41 Written by
The Minister of Health Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng addressing the public at mayor’s.
gardens in Mubende District during the Public declaration for the end of Ebola
in Uganda on 11th January 2023.

The Ministry of Health together with the World Health Organization, declared Uganda Ebola Free on 11th, January,2023. “We have successfully controlled the spread of Ebola in Uganda and we now declare Uganda Ebola outbreak free.” Said Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, the Health Minister in Uganda while addressing the public in Mubende District.
The Minister also added that Ebola has been with us for 113 days since the outbreak 55 people have died, including at least six health workers.

Uganda Red Cross Society Interventions.

With support from partners; International Federation of the Red cross (IFRC) and Red Crescent, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), World Food Program (WFP), ECHO, ICRC under the coordination of the the Ministry of Health (M.O.H), Uganda Red Cross Society has responded to the Ebola viral Disease in the Mubende, Kasanda, Kyegegwa, Masaka and Jinja Districts through implementing different activities under the following pillars:

  • Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE)
  • Case Management
  •  Surveillance (Community Based Surveillance)
  •   Mental Health (Psychosocial support)
  • Coordination 
URCS SDB team caring a body in a body bag, ahead of a safe and dignified
burial in one of the affected communities in Mubende.

The National Society (URCS) has supported to carry out safe and dignified burials for all deaths that occurred due EVD, and other diseases since the President guided that all deaths should be managed by trained burial teams (SDB).
URCS deployed over 3000 Volunteers at the community level to carry out Risk Communication and Community Engagement activities at community level, Water Hygiene and Sanitation services (WASH), Data collection by using the kobo collection tool, Contact tracing for all probable cases, training of the Village Health Teams (VHT’s), Ambulance services and referrals to Ebola Treatment Units and other designated health centers,  picking cases from communities and above all, offered psychosocial support to the affected families and community members.

Community Engagement is key when implementing behavioral change activities. In Africa, families are used to burying their own. During Ebola response, the families could not burry their people as a safety and disease prevention measure. They needed to be prepared, taken through the reasons why for them to appreciate and allow trained teams to bury the dead.

Uganda has been declared Ebola Free, what next for the affected communities?

Uganda Red Cross Ambulance team in Mubende District picking a suspected
Ebola patient from the community for referral .

The Director Health and Social Services at Uganda Red Cross Dr. Josephine Okwera said” we are now looking at a proper phase out, we are still in the communities as we continue with the community based surveillance where we have large number of Uganda Red Cross volunteers and village health teams . working within their villages to be vigilant and observe what is taking place in their villages and report appropriately.

Dr. Okwera also acknowledges the indispensable work done by the volunteers of Uganda Red Cross with support from partners in ensuring that they curb the spread of the deadly virus.

Whereas other players may step down, the Uganda Red Cross teams will continue working in the community to help community members settle in and also adopt behaviors that will keep away the virus.

“Epidemics begin and end in communities. When we engage communities, they adopt desired behavior and pick up safety skills and knowledge required to keep communities safe. We wish to keep supporting communities when we are not in an emergency mode like we’ve been. They also learn signs and symptoms, as well as the modalities and channels they have to use to report any cases that occur within their communities for immediate response by the Health care workers. ” Okwera added.

Water Hygiene and Sanitation (WASH) facilities have been placed in schools
and markets, as well as other public places to promote hand washing as
one of the ways for preventing the spread of Ebola.

Through his social media handles, The Secretary General of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Jagan Chapagain extended a big congratulatory message to Uganda and more so to the Uganda Red Cross for this big achievement. “Congratulations Uganda! The Country once again led the local efforts to tackle an Ebola outbreak. Proud of the Uganda Red Cross Society and IFRC teams responding at the community level since day one.” We thank all the partners who support local action. ”Jagan added.

Different African health authorities have made a collaborative effort to boost their readiness to counter to Ebola after a devastating outbreak of the Zaire strain of the disease in West Africa between 2014 and 2016 that killed 11,300 people, mostly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

On 20th September 2022 the Ministry of Health together with the World Health Organization declared an Ebola outbreak that occurred in Mubende District, Uganda. The first victim was a 24-year-old man residing in Ngabano village in Madudu subcounty. The Ebola virus then spread in the nearby area of Kagadi before spreading to other Districts including the Uganda Capital, Kampala.
Ebola causes vomiting, bleeding and diarrhoea and spreads through contact with infected people’s bodily fluids.

Director Health and Social Services, URCS, Dr. Josephine Okwera addressing
the media in Mubende District during the end of Ebola outbreak declaration
on 11th January, 2023.

The virus can sometimes linger in the eyes, central nervous system and bodily fluids of survivors and flare up years later. According to the Ministry of Health, 143 cases were confirmed, 22 probable cases and 55 deaths were reported with a case of fertility rate of 39%.

In October, the Government imposed travel restrictions, an overnight curfew and closed down places of worship and entertainment to try to contain the outbreak in central Uganda, but several cases later appeared in the capital and east of the country. In December 2022, Uganda discharged its last known Ebola patient from hospital and President Yoweri Museveni lifted all Ebola-related movement restrictions which marked the beginning of activities that later saw the Pearl of Africa free after 4 months of the outbreak.

The Uganda Red Cross Society is proud to have been a key player in fighting the deadly Ebola viral disease.

Uganda Red Cross Society joins Partners to launch the first 2023 blood donation drive

Friday, 06 January 2023 18:35 Written by
Blood donor Recruitment Manager Uganda Red Cross Society Sara Mutegombwa
(Left) hands over a blood donation T shirt to Prince Jjunju after the launch

Uganda Red Cross Society in partnership with the Buganda Kingdom and the Uganda Blood Transfusion Services (UBTS), launched a blood donation drive in Kyadondo. The event aimed at ensuring that there’s a continued bridged blood gap in the country was at Bulange Mengo, the main administrative block of Buganda Kingdom.

The Chief Guest, Omulangira Crispin Jjunju who represented Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II, called upon the public to donate blood. In his address, Jjunju highlighted that, “it is such a great honor to see the people of Buganda Kingdom donating blood in large numbers to save lives.” He further noted how the initiative will help reduce blood shortage in hospitals.

The Chairman Central Governing Board Uganda Red Cross Society, Dr. Khalid Kirundi, while addressing guests at Bulange, thanked the Kabaka of Buganda for being a blood champion who cares for the health of the people of Buganda and Uganda at large. He also thanked the religious leaders for being instrumental in mobilizing voluntary donors and for joining this noble cause. “Blood remains a major need for anyone to keep alive,” he noted.

Chairman Central Governing Board Uganda Red Cross Society addresing stake
holders during the launch at Bulange Gardens

The 1st Deputy prime (Katikkiro) of Buganda, Dr. Hajji. Twaha Kawase who represented his superior, thanked the stakeholders for responding to the Kabaka’s call to donate blood. Kawase further emphasized that regardless of religion, tribe, age or political affiliations, it’s everyone’s responsibility to fight blood shortage in the country. He thanked the Uganda Red Cross Society, Kabaka Foundation, Uganda Blood Transfusion Services, CBS FM, and BBS television for being at the forefront of mobilizing and collecting blood.

Other stakeholders that have joined the drive are religious leaders, taxi drivers, Boda boda riders among others. The 2021 Annual Crime and Traffic/Road Safety report indicated that 4,159 road accident fatalities countrywide were recorded. Of these 1,390 involved motorcycle riders while 528 were passengers on motorcycles. This translates to about four people dying from Boda Boda accidents daily.

The Boda Boda association, being the highest victims of road accidents through their leadership promised to mobilize their colleagues to donate blood that can be used by their colleagues in case of emergencies. They however cautioned Uganda Blood Transfusion Services against the sale of blood in hospitals which demoralizes them as donors. Previously, 3,000,000 people were reached with Blood donor recruitment information, 90,000 new blood donors joined, and 115,000 units were collected in 14 counties of Buganda. A great milestone was achieved in the history of Uganda.

This year 2023, the partners envisage raising 450,000 units of blood through strategic engagements and Partnerships as well as intensifying blood donor recruitment information in all parts of the country.

Omulangira Crispin Jjunju signs the Blood drive plaque during the launch
at Bulange gardens

Ebola outbreak in Mubende District

Friday, 21 October 2022 16:57 Written by
URCS volunteers undergoing a Safe and Dignified Burial training in
Mubende district

On 20th September 2022, the Ministry of Health (MoH) declared an Ebola outbreak in Mubende District located in Central Uganda.

According to latest statistics from the MoH dated 10th October 2022, there were 54 confirmed cases, 19 confirmed deaths, and 20 probable deaths.

New Cases 6,Cumulative confirmed cases 54, Confirmed Deaths 20, Recoveries 20. Ebola has been so far confirmed in 5 districts in Uganda including Kagadi, Mubende, Kyegegwa, Kassanda, Bunyangabu.

Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a deadly disease with occasional outbreaks that occur mostly on the African continent. EVD most commonly affects people and non-human primates (such as monkeys, gorillas,and chimpanzees).

It is caused by an infection with a group of viruses within the genus Ebola virus. The Ebola virus is a deadly virus that causes hemorrhagic fever in humans and other primates.

Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after contact with the virus, with an average of 8 to 10 days. The course of the illness typically progresses from “dry” symptoms initially (such as fever, aches and pains, and fatigue), and then progresses to “wet”. symptoms (such as diarrhea and vomiting) as the person becomes sicker.

Primary signs and symptoms of Ebola often include some or several of the following: Fever, Aches and pains, such as severe headache and muscle and joint pain, Weakness and fatigue, Sore throat, Loss of appetite, Gastrointestinal symptoms including abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting, Unexplained hemorrhaging, bleeding or bruising.

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URCS Contacts

Plot 551/555 Rubaga Road.
P.O. Box 494, Kampala Uganda.
Tel:     (256) 414 258701
Tel:     (256) 414 258702
Email: sgurcs@redcrossug.org


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