WHO in 2006 established through a series of studies that there is a chronic shortage of well-trained health workers. The shortage is global, but most acutely felt in the countries that need them most. For a variety of reasons, such as the migration, illness or death of health workers, countries are unable to educate and sustain the health workforce that could improve people’s chances of survival and their well-being (WHO, 2006).
In Kenya, due to the shortage of health workers, Community Health Volunteers are among the most important cadres of health services. They interact with community members on a daily basis during household visits.
Today we share the story of two CHVs who are making a change in their communities.
Village HopeCore, in collaboration with the County Government of Tharaka Nithi, has been using CHVs in Tharaka Nithi to educate the community members on COVID-19. Dorcas Kageni, one of our CHVs, has been visiting households to educate them on COVID-19.
Dorcas Kageni is from Kiriguni. Dorcas became a CHV so she could educate community members on health and hygiene. She is a farmer and uses the proceeds from the farm to provide for her family. Dorcas gets inspiration for her work from the improvements she finds in the homes during home visits. Dorcas says HopeCore has supported her by providing education that has improved her life and enabled her to provide better education to community members.
Dorcas farming income has been affected by COVID-19 due to the closure of markets. She wishes HopeCore would increase the CHV stipend to help with this so she could visit more homes.
Dinah decided to become a CHV when she saw that a large number of community members would buy over the counter medicine as opposed to going to the health centre for testing. Dinah believes that one of the major roles of CHVs is to educate community members and cultivate a culture of health-seeking behaviours such as going to the hospital. She enjoys the recognition she has gained from community members for being the health leader. Dinah has noticed that due to her status, the community demands more than just health education from her. This extends to the extremely needy families who expect financial support from her.
Dinah says HopeCore has benefited her by training her and providing stipends that help her support her family. Due to COVID-19, she has been spending more time than usual educating community members. This has impacted on the time she used to spend on looking for income to provide for her family.
Dinah appreciates the COVID-19 flipbook as it provides a quick method of referral when she is educating.
We thank all the community health workers who are out on the frontlines in their communities, working so hard to educate and empower their neighbors agains the fight on COVID-19!