Ernest Masereka, a community leader in a tiny village called Rutoke in rural western Uganda, is helping to save lives by running a local health club.

The club meets regularly and has become a forum where residents can discuss health issues, learn to spot the signs of malaria symptoms, and begin to seek early treatment.

Club members even decided to set up an emergency “ambulance fund” that villagers pay into, which is essential when someone is faced with unexpected costs to reach a hospital miles away and there are life or death consequences in an area that’s so far from clinics and trained medics.

Village health clubs are just one of many initiatives being rolled out across western and central districts in Uganda by Malaria Consortium, an international NGO that reduces the rates of malaria and other infectious diseases in Africa and Asia through evidence-based health programmes.

They are part of a huge and multifaceted effort to bring down the high mortality rates associated with malaria in Uganda. The overarching five year project, Malaria Action Programme for Districts, seeks to reduce maternal and childhood morbidity and mortality due to malaria and has been set up with the support of both the American and British public, in the form of USAID, as well as UK aid.

But the UK aid budget is set to see a £4.5 billion cut this year, with some development programmes already being told to cut their budgets by up to 70%. It’s a move that could have devastating consequences for health outcomes in Uganda and elsewhere.

Together, the NGOs, specialists, and Ugandan Government are improving diagnostic testing, increasing the reach of health care to villages, and changing hearts and minds through better communication about the dangers of malaria.

Read the full article about village health clubs in Uganda by Helen Lock at Global Citizen.