In June 2022, we commenced our research activities on chronic respiratory diseases. We started the data collection by using our well-established and precisely tailored community health workers (CHWs) program. Hereby, CHWs act as a link between the formal health sector and their communities to improve community health outcomes.
The prevalence of chronic respiratory diseases is significantly higher in rural areas of Uganda than in urban areas. One of the reasons for this is the high exposure to biomass smoke, which poses a major health threat to the inhabitants of rural areas in Uganda.
However, only a small proportion of the people affected knows their disease status. In addition, diagnosis for these diseases only occurs in clinical settings which is often hard to access, especially in rural areas of the country.
We conducted a formal research training workshop for our CHWs: we trained CHWs in the project area to screen, refer, and follow up participants with unacceptable spirometry, such as COPD, at the community level. Participants from three sub-counties will be enrolled in this study. CHWs will seek out hard-to-reach community members to collect information on these rural participants using spirometry testing. Once a participant is found to have impaired lung function, the participant receives a referral to one of our NCD clinics for follow-up, spirometry, and continuation of care.
Early and accurate diagnosis and management of chronic respiratory diseases are urgently needed, to potentially improve morbidity and mortality, and overall quality of life.