Health: Innovation Award

Hoima Public Library in Uganda helps the community fight life-threatening diseases

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A nurse practising her computer skills in the library.
Immaculate Nyakato, of Hoima Nursing School is a regular visitor to Hoima Public Library’s e-health corner.

community need

Malaria is a special concern in Hoima District in Uganda because it borders on Lake Albert, which is the seventh largest lake in Africa.

the innovative service

Hoima Public Library’s health service is making a difference to the ways in which people understand and prevent malaria. The service includes free internet access, ICT and online research training in an e-health corner. It also includes regular public health forums and film shows on local health issues.

In February 2012, just two years after the service was launched, a survey of library users found that over 20% more mothers in the community had mosquito nets in their homes, and over half are sleeping under the nets regularly, especially during pregnancy.

More people are seeking health information at the library

The survey also found a dramatic increase in health seeking behaviour among library users. Over 38% more youth, 39% more men and 29% more women are using the library to seek health information.

Findings like these mean that Hoima Public Library is attracting attention, and increasing numbers of government and civil society health service providers are using the service to train staff and conduct research.

“We need to use knowledge offered by the ICT health corner to help our patients find health information to improve their health,” said Immaculate Nyakato, a nurse.

The service is funded by the Hoima Municipal Council and its work is sustained and extended through creative partnerships. The National Library of Uganda provides technical support and resources; experts from the Red Cross/Hoima Branch, the Uganda Network of AIDS Service Organizations, Hoima Nursing School, Hoima Regional Referral Hospital and the Uganda Association of Private Vocational Institutions (UGAPRIV) send lecturers to speak at the public health forums and film shows, and help the library mobilize the community to attend health information events.

more libraries contributing to community health

Read about more innovative public library services that are helping to build healthy communities. PLIP-HEALTH

The library’s ICT health corner guides our patients and also provides access to programmes like Skype, Twitter, Facebook and email, which are all very important in service delivery.
Brian Macoine, clinical officer, Hoima Regional Referral Hospital