Jael Onditi, a community health volunteer in Shauri Yako, Homa Bay town, Kenya.
Some 3,000 community health volunteers in Kenya’s Homa Bay County are on the frontlines to promote disease prevention in remote villages. They have been crucial to the battle against vices such as HIV/AIDS, cholera and TB.
NAIROBI, March 26– Jael Onditi is a community health volunteer (CHV) that supplements the formal health system in promoting disease prevention in remote villages in western Kenya.
She is based in the western Kenyan county of Homa Bay where she has been promoting environmental hygiene in the last 15 years to curb the spread of communicable diseases like cholera.
“Together with the residents, I developed a three-day program to help keep the environment clean, a move that has saved the residents from contracting cholera and other waterborne diseases,” Onditi told Xinhua.
Onditi is a trained CHV by the Ministry of Health on antenatal care, use of malaria kits and testing of tuberculosis cases in the villages.
She helps local people to follow up on their appointments such as immunization dates, sanitation clean-up operations, ensuring that HIV/AIDS positive people go for their medication promptly.
“We are forced to give priority to the community over our family since most of the time we are woken up early in the morning, sometimes in the middle of the night depending on the emergency,” said Onditi.
As part of her work, Onditi ensures that everyone in the village uses the toilets correctly, ensures that children wastes are properly disposed of, keeps their food wastes, removes standing water and keeps cleanliness within the corridors.
Richard Muga, executive committee member of Health Services in Homa Bay County, said that CHVs have brought about an increasing behavior change in the broader health care sector.
He said that CHVs have the potential to supplement the formal health system at a time when infectious, nutritional and non-communicable diseases have become common.
“The CHVs have been found to be leading facilitators of success as they help find solutions in fixing health problems that initially proved stubborn to the government,” said Muga.
The CHVs, he added, are now allowed to enter households in their villages to check how communities live and report back for action.
Mathews Ajwala, community health officer in Homa Bay County, said their main role is to follow up on COVID-19 follow-ups, providing mosquito nets to needy cases, ensuring that mothers seek maternal health and following up on sanitation issues.Xinhua