Community health workers: Frontline agents of change in underserved communities
Prevention is better than cure, and in marginalised communities it is Community Health Workers (CHWs) that can play a vital role in reducing the prevalence of preventable diseases.
In rural Baringo County where there is little to no basic primary health care, the distance to medical treatment, and the cost of transport and subsequent service provision, further exacerbate inaccessibility for the majority of community members who live in poverty. In these circumstances, trained volunteer CHWs who are embedded in the community, become frontline agents of change that promote good health and wellbeing.
So They Can’s Community Health project in Kenya ensures that our program-supported schools and their surrounding communities are healthy, informed and able to take a proactive role in supporting everyone’s health and education. The improved health of community members is achieved largely through support of,well-resourced health care services by quality partner medical facilities – Nakoko and Chesirimion Health Clinics. The Government provides personnel and supplies including medicines and consumables; the Clinics facilitate quality curative and preventive health services; and So They Can with the support of donors provides medicines and other supplementary supplies, and also provides some infrastructure.
This month 22 CHWs attended an intensive 3-day training facilitated by So They Can to build their outreach capacity. The training was delivered by expert Government Health Educators, in accordance with the national CHW curriculum, and focused on: first aid; community health education for disease prevention – including vaccinations, sanitation, use of mosquito nets and safe sexual behaviours; developing and disseminating effective community health messaging; formal documentation and recording of populations’ health and facilitating patient referrals.The training also focussed on effective communication skills, which is a critical skill to build rapport and trust with community members where cultural barriers to health care can persist.
CHWs are undoubtedly an important bridge between their communities and the formal health care system. Armed with the knowledge and skills gained through this recent training, and subsequent follow-up training scheduled for 2024, these CHWs are set to save lives!
The Eurofins Foundation is an ongoing supporter of So They Can’s Community Health project in Kenya.