From Hospital to Household March 12, 2015  by      

By: Mark Muasa, Head of Health Services Department, and Yunus Mohammed, Community Outreach Project Officer

Women Attending a Hand-Washing Session

In Kibera, it’s a no-brainer that lacking access to adequate healthcare can be life-threatening—and for young mothers, women of childbearing age, and children younger than 5, this is especially true. Often, reproductive health services in Kibera are portrayed as damaging or untrustworthy, which discourages people who need treatment from seeking it out. And when those services are out of reach due to time, cost, or distance, seeking treatment or advice can feel hopeless.

Seeking treatment should not feel hopeless. There is an urgent need to combat health misinformation and close the gap—physical and mental—between community members and accessible medical care. That’s exactly what CFK aims to do through our renewed collaboration with Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC). The new RMHC-funded project intends to build upon CFK’s network of Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) in order to spread accurate and reliable health information to Kiberans. Over the next 2 years, CHVs will focus on maternal and child health, improving awareness of and access to antenatal care, family planning methods, and immunization and vaccines for children, among other things.

To do this, CFK has partnered with another organization, Curamericas Global—an organization dedicated to bringing health to underserved communities worldwide—to train and support Community Health Volunteers responsible for bringing this information to average community members. Curamericas Global Program Manager, Florence Amadi, has already visited Kibera—twice now—to run workshops for staff and CHVs!

From there, CHVs will follow the Train-the-Trainer (TTT) model to reach community members with accurate health information and advice. The model has 3 tiers: first, a medical professional provides training and support for staff and volunteers. Then, CHVs conduct door-to-door visits at their peers’ homes in Kibera to deliver that health information to others, to screen household members, and provide basic services and referrals if necessary. CHVs are also residents of Kibera. As such, they are trusted by their friends and neighbors, which makes it easier for them to dispel preconceived notions about health and replace them with accurate information.

Through this model of “cascading” information, CFK is aiming to tackle maternal and child health issues—and misinformation about them—in Kibera. By taking proper information and services from hospital to household, we hope to ensure access to health services for thousands of Kiberan residents. With support from RMHC and Curamericas, the whole project will educate and encourage women of childbearing age to make use of vital health services for themselves and their children.

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