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Creating Healthy Communities

CHWs play a pivotal role in addressing provision of health services especially to the rural and marginalized communities as they have the ability to make health services more inclusive and less discriminatory. In areas where hospitals are miles away, they support the health sector in addressing health matters that are uncomplicated and refer complicated cases to the health facilities
Their introduction into the health sector is essential in addressing essential health services especially to the poorest of regions and marginalized communities where the road network and access to essential medical facilities is a challenge. They aid in health education, through chiefs barazas, health talk days etc. They are a vital source of health related information to the communities within which they serve.

“Since they came to our village and visited me, a lot has changed; they encouraged me to go the clinic for post natal care” says Mrs. Mary Nyaboke referring to the work being done by the Manga CHWs.
Nyaboke a five month pregnant mother and also mother of one had not attended postnatal care before.
“Before I went to the clinic, my legs were hurting” said Nyaboke, “Now I am ok.”
“For her to attend the post natal clinic even at five months of pregnancy and maintain the attendance is an achievement for them.” Says Douglas Mobasi , KeNAAM Kisii field officer referring to the work by the CHWs in Manga District, Nyamira County.

Nyaboke is one among hundreds of women in the rural index who do not attend the neonatal clinic unaware of the dangers it poses both to them and their unborn child.

It is estimated that there are 31 neonatal deaths per 1000 live births in Kenya, according to the Kenya Health Sector Strategic and Investment Plan (KHSSPI), July 2013 – June 2018. The statistics could be higher, could become higher if the information gap that exists is left as it is at the moment.

“Through health talks organized within the community level, we try to sensitize the people on health issues, attending the neonatal clinic is one of them.” Says Manga Community Health Extension Worker (CHEW), Mr. Dennis Ngoge.

Ngoge also requested there be more IEC materials to help the CHWs and CHCs in information dissemination within the communities.

“In addressing matters of health, the community should be involved” said the County Health Promotion officer, Nyamira County, Mr. Charles O. Mogakah.
He also added that involving communities would make them own the programs and thus ensure the success of the program. As such he commended the work being done by KeNAAM and other stakeholders in the health sector.

“Health should not only be left for the government” said Mogakah, “health is for all of us, we all should be involved”.
In addressing matters of health thus, it is critical that we recognize the community as users, creators and stakeholders in an effective health system. Moreover creating healthy communities will create a prosperous economy for our country, a vibrant spirit in our people and successful nation.
In Getongoroma, Kuria East, Migori County, praises abound for the work CHWs are doing in the region. They have greatly aided in dissemination of information on proper net usage, neonatal and postnatal referrals, sensitization on sanitation issues such as building pit latrines within the communities among other issues.

Getongoroma CHEW, Mr. James Igayi, says this has greatly aided in reducing the number of not only malaria cases in the region but also an increase the number of women attending postnatal clinic.
Thus investing in CHWs is central in the success of the community strategy as they play a number of roles in the system; as recipients of skills and support and thereby increasing the capacity in the longer term, delivering better service to patients now and in the future, plus they are advocates for change.

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