Busia banks on volunteers to fight against infant diseases

community health volunteer

A community health volunteer attends to a nursing mother in Amagoro, Busia County .

Photo credit: Angeline Ochieng | Nation Media Group

Busia residents are hoping that a partnership between the county government and a non-governmental organisation will reduce the rate of infant mortality in the region.

Dubbed Possible Serious Bacterial Infection (PSBI), the programme by Busia County in partnership with Living Goods Organisation is aimed at identifying infections among infants below 59 days and linking them with health facilities on time.

With the help of Community Health Volunteers (CHVs), the programme addresses late diagnosis and treatment of diseases while also aiming at reducing mortality rates.

 “We always get referrals from CHVs who have been trained to identify the danger signs and ensure the patients are rushed to health facilities for treatment on time,” said Mr Wenslaus Omondi, a nurse in charge at the Kamuriai Health Centre in Teso North.

In a case of late diagnosis, the infections can lead to eye sickness, stomach infections, brain damage and even death.

The project has only been running in the two sub-counties of Teso North and Bunyala for the last two years.  Healthy Nation has been informed that plans are underway to scale up the programme to other sub-counties.

Mr Omondi said some of the danger signs the volunteers look out for include pus discharge, swelling or reddening of the infant’s eyes.

According to Mr Omondi, the hospital does not go a day without recording a single case, thus the need for proper management and treatment.

“In case of a suspected infection, we issue the guardian or parent with a referral letter and ensure they visit the facilities,” says Ms Jecinta Papai, a CHV at Amagoro, in Teso North.

She adds: “We also offer health education to the mothers of the infants on the effects of the diseases while also informing them that the treatment for the illnesses is free of charge.”

The health experts at the facility are expected to treat the patient with a referral letter sent back to the CHV for a continued follow-up.

Ms Papai said the partnership has played a key role in ensuring they are trained constantly and that they are well-equipped.

Mr David Watila, the Living Goods Organisation Busia regional field manager, said the aim of the programme is to ensure a complete referral system and follow up of infants with PSBIs.