What you need to know:
- These volunteers are very important stakeholders in the health sector.
- The community linkage protocol from the top to the bottom was a well-thought-out initiative to help reach everyone at the grassroots.
The Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation in 2007 adopted a Community Health Strategy in order to reverse poor health results so as to meet Millennium Development goals 4 and 5.
The aim was to strengthen community participation and its ability to take action towards primary health.
This was to improve individual productivity and thus reduce poverty, hunger and child/maternal deaths as well as improve education performance in the society.
In spite of units being formed at the grassroots and volunteers assigned, some have not been trained to date, though they keep assisting in their local health facilities without stipends.
No political will
Though these volunteers are very important stakeholders in the health sector, there has been no political will to support their effort. Non-governmental organisations have, however, assisted once in a while.
The community linkage protocol from the top to the bottom was a well-thought-out initiative to help reach everyone at the grassroots.
I was a CHV in the Njiru unit under the Njiru Health facility, where I was designated several households in my neighbourhood.
The most exciting responsibility was assisting the nurses in administering the polio vaccine.
Discouraging was when we did the Mid-upper Arm Circumference (MUAC) on children and realised how much malnutrition had affected them.
It was also disheartening to see how much the poor suffered as they tried to stay on TB and HIV drugs; many skipped the drugs because they couldn’t take them on an empty stomach. Many did not have a supporting system at home. Some were bedridden and had no means to seek further health attention.
We bought food when we could and gave the immediate help needed but, unfortunately, some died in the course of the follow-ups.
The best thing is that many healed from TB and many HIV patients are healthy and have formed support groups.
Ms Githaiga, former nominated MCA in Nairobi, is a community health volunteer. [email protected]