Community Health Workers in the Neighborhood!
How HopeCore is continuing to implement community health on the slopes of Mt. Kenya
~Ari Rasori, RN, FNP
Regardless of where one lives in the world, most parents share one thing in common, and that is having the trust that their children will have good healthcare when they are sick. In rural and resource-constrained areas, the delivery of effective healthcare services can be very challenging. In these settings, families often feel isolated, not knowing when they should really worry about their child’s persistent diarrhea that has not improved, fearing they will have to pay their life savings on a bus ride to the closest hospital. The alarming statistic is that this is a reality for a large portion of our human population, even today in the 21st century when healthcare and technology are booming. The World Health Organization estimates that over 4 million people worldwide lack access to quality health services, in large part due to uneven distribution of healthcare workers. It is additionally noted by the WHO, that there is a current need of 4.3 million healthcare workers worldwide, particularly in rural and resource-limited regions. HopeCore’s health program resides in one of these regions.
HopeCore is changing this stark reality for several thousand villagers on the slopes of Mt. Kenya. How? We are training, employing and building a community health workforce, which we call Neighborhood Community Health Volunteers or NCHVs. These NCHVs are selected geographically in the most rural communities to be the healthcare liaisons for their own community members and to HopeCore.
Why is this horizontal approach to training a neighbor in the community health so important? Because as members of the community themselves, they understand the challenges that are faced when considering healthcare options. Because they live and work in the same community, NCHVs have the trust of their neighbors and they can provide culturally appropriate illness prevention education and basic public health interventions. NCHVs are additionally trained to identify danger signs, they know the resources available and are equipped to offer referrals to higher levels of care. They can arrange transportation and assist with consultations through the use of the smartphone that HopeCore provides to them free of charge. They are educators, health promoters, and they are the trusted heroes in their own communities. They can provide regular monitoring of patients who are ill, passing by their homes daily if needed. They can check in on the elderly, offer help to the new mother. They provide hope for families and are the healthcare backbone for communities.
How does our NCHV model work? The most cost-effective approach to this community health model is for HopeCore to provide these NCHVs with a monthly stipend for their part-time work, allowing them to continue to work on their own farms or small businesses. As part of their stipend, the NCHVs also receive free regular training sessions throughout the year with transportation included. Additionally, the NCHVs are equipped with several key medical equipment items, that are crucial for them to provide efficient and effective public health care, including smartphones, basic first aid items, and public health reference materials.
What is the future of this model? It is exciting to have a program that has such a huge impact on the communities. A cost-effective strategy that empowers local villagers and has been shown to save lives. After a successful implementation of the first 50 NCHVs over the past year, the program has demonstrated that there is a large need to scale this program. These healthcare workers have been instrumental in reaching families and children that have a very little capacity to access medical care or health education. HopeCore is committed to selecting, training and hiring an additional 200 NCHVs over the next year!
How you can help? HopeCore has made this program incredibly effective at keeping costs down. For very little money, your contribution can have extremely huge impacts on the health of villagers in the communities around Mt. Kenya.
$10 will support the ongoing training of 1 CHW for two months
$30 will support a student for a CHW for one month
$50 will purchase a smartphone to equip a CHW with data collection capability & educational tools
$100 will provide uniform and bags for 5 new CHWs
$500 will purchase the equipment and medications given to 5 CHWs in the year