Efforts by the County Government of Kiambu to reduce congestion at the hospital level by ensuring that patients with non-communicable diseases are attended to from their home has been boosted by input from Community Health Volunteers (CHV).
There are over 4,000 community health workers in Kiambu County, who are divided into 10 CHVs per village that have been placed strategically in all the villages, aimed at attending to the people right from their proximity.
Speaking to KNA at Kirigiti Sunday, a CHV who has been working with the community in Kirigiti for the past five years, Dorothy Kinyua disclosed that since they started the programme in Kirigiti village there has been great improvement in antenatal care visits, testing and treatment for diseases like HIV, malaria and Child immunisations in the area from 30% to 90%, while they visit a total 30 to 50 households per week and also do follow ups on previous cases.
The programme has been a great success as the CHVs are at the grassroots to curb unnecessary movement of people to crowd hospitals by offering preventive measures of health, especially on non-communicable diseases.
According to Kinyua, the CHV are now able to help in some health cases like monitoring hypertension and diabetes patients within Kirigiti using the health kits that were provided to them at the beginning of this year by the County Governor Dr. James Nyoro.
More so now that the lifestyle diseases like hypertension and diabetes have become rampant in their unit, they are able to advise the patients on where to source their medication so that they do not go to Kiambu hospital which is a referral hospital meant for specialised treatment.
A resident of Kirigiti village and a beneficiary of the programme Cecilia Njeri narrated to KNA how she finds it easy now to monitor her diabetic condition as the CHVs are always around to help her with the basics and that she no longer needs to visit any health facility for the management of her condition.
Njeri recounted how she was helped by Ms. Kinyua to register and get her NHIF card, which has been of great help to her whenever she needs to visit the hospital.
She further noted that her daughter who is now in class 8 does not miss school anymore, as when it’s that menstruating time of the month as the programme provides sanitary towels when she requires them.
Like every other Job, the CHVs also face a lot of challenges in their workplace, but according to Kinyua the biggest challenge has been remuneration.
The CHV basically works on voluntarily basis as they are not remunerated by the County Government of Kiambu, but have trained them in all areas that help them serve their clients.
However, there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel because speaking last month while giving the CHVs health kits, Dr. Nyoro promised to table a bill in the assembly for CHVs to be getting a stipend of Sh2, 000 each month.
The program has been ongoing since 2006 and its new policy was released in 2020.Their work includes making visits to homes, initiating dialogue with household members to determine their health situation, delivering key health messages from the government while undertaking necessary action.
The CHV also guides the community on health improvement and disease prevention, registering households at frequencies stipulated in current guidelines, implement protocols for Community-Based Maternal and New-born Health and Integrated Community Case Management of Childhood Illnesses.
For Kinyua and her colleagues, all they can do is to continue serving diligently, while hoping as soon as the bill passes through, they will be able to get a salary for their selfless services to the community.
The Community health volunteers remain an integral part of the community, helping patients with minor illnesses to avoid travelling long distances to hospitals and health centres.
by Lydia Shiloya and Grace Naishoo