Amref – The role of Community Health Volunteers in Makueni, Kenya
Makueni is one of most remote counties in Kenya, with 67% of the population living below the poverty line. In this mostly rural county women and children are acutely affected by inadequate health provision and a lack of access to basic services, leading to preventable risks in pregnancy, childbirth and new-born care.
On average, women walk up to 6km to reach their nearest health centre, and staff and resources at the facilities are under strain.
“Before, people used to stay at home. They get sick and they didn’t come to the hospital until they were sometimes past the point of help. But now our trained CHV’s have warned mothers about the danger signs of illnesses. When a child has a fever, they just refer immediately, they don’t try and treat at home…if a baby is born at home, the mother brings them to the hospital immediately.”
Serah Ngusie Muli, Chief Nurse, Kasikeu Health Centre, Makueni
Serah Ngusie is 29 years old. She is one of two nursing officers in charge at Kasikeu Health Centre, Makueni – a small health facility serving up to 5,000 people in the local area.
Serah has worked at the health facility for six years and has seen a lot of changes during this time. On a typical day, Serah can see up to ten women in the antenatal clinic, one pregnant mother and 15 children under the age of five.
“The hardest part of my job is the long hours. I work all day and then I am up all night tending to pregnant mothers. But the situation here has improved drastically.”
“When Amref arrived here in 2012, it was great. They trained Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) and increased the community awareness of the service we provided. Previously we never used to do deliveries here but this has changed. After the training, the CHVs gave expectant mothers information on the importance of hospital delivery and attending for ante natal classes. When women come for these visits they are told about how it is unsafe to deliver at home, why they should deliver at the facility.”
Rose Agnes CHW & Jane Mbinya with baby delivered at health centre
“Amref has really helped us. Now, the mothers are comfortable in this health facility because they have privacy and space. We have moved to a new maternity block with showers and hot water. We have water running, which makes it easier to control infection and we have much more knowledge on pregnancy and childbirth – looking after the mother and the baby to make sure both have safe deliveries.”
Kasikeu Health Centre in Makueni is a small health facility serving up to 5,000 people in the local area. The centre received support from Amref Health Africa UK’s project to renovate the maternity facilities, including provision of equipment and a new maternity bed. Amref also provided additional support to integrate water and sanitation facilities at the health facility, installing a new water tank, toilets and hot water showers, making skilled delivery safer and protecting women from infection.
How you can help
We at Somak Holiday are delighted and proud to partner with such an inspiring organisation, and continue to support their work through the sale of Maisha travel insurance. We are pleased to announce that everyone who books a package to Tanzania and Kenya will receive Amref Flying Doctors ‘Maisha’ Ambulance Cover courtesy of Somak Holidays. For each traveller to East Africa, Somak makes a donation to Amref.
If you would like to help Amref Health Africa bring health change to Africa and break the cycle of poverty by donating or to find out more about their work please visit their website at www.amrefuk.org or call Amref’s office on 020 7269 5520. Their latest annual review can be read here.