Strengthening Health Awareness and Prevention Among Communities
By: Jessie Crowdy; Edited by Allison Kozicharow
In early December the Lancet called for an urgent Africa COVID-19 plan of action to protect communities where the virus is still persistently spreading. To that end, WiRED International’s community health workers (CHWs) — graduates of WiRED’s CHW training program — continue their committed service to teach and inform communities in Kisumu, Kenya, about how to prevent and address COVID-19 and many other health concerns. WiRED CHWs provide crucial support to underserved populations with basic clinical services and in teaching first aid, health and preventative measures — knowledge that the people can then apply at home with their own families.
The CHWs value the professional facilitators (medical instructors) and the readily applicable content of the 400+ health education modules. CHW Bunnyce Atieno said, “The facilitators who took us through the training were the best I have ever met. The health modules introduced by WiRED have been of so much help to us because whatever we do not know, we can refer to the modules and get the necessary information.”
These communities are facing not only general health problems and disease but also hygiene challenges and chronic health conditions. CHWs offer critical relief to their communities who otherwise would have limited or no access to reliable health information.
The coronavirus pandemic continues to pose a major threat to Kisumu, and is the top health-related topic CHWs addressed with community members during the month of November. In an effort to contain the spread of the virus effectively, CHWs are trained by WiRED’s medical instructors on various aspects of COVID-19 and preventative measures.
From November 1 – 30, 2020, 14 WiRED-trained CHWs attended the health needs of 6,159 people in more than a dozen Kisumu communities. The major health-related issues this month besides COVID-19 included malaria, handwashing and infectious diseases. In one month alone, the CHWs put in 1,332 hours of service. The commitment and hard work of this dedicated group of CHWs is effectively responding to the basic health concerns of these communities, where lives are being saved and community health is no longer unattainable.
Further Testimonials from WiRED CHWs
I am proud as a CHW worker of the knowledge and skills I acquired from the training that has been helping me in the field. I also have a new name in my community: people call me “teacher” or “doctor.” Which makes my heart jump from joy.
— Imelda Anyango, CHW
Health information in the community had not been taken seriously, but after the CHW training we CHWs started working in the community. We give health information and referrals. I learned about COVID-19 in the training even before the government put in a lockdown and was able to teach people in the community how to protect themselves against the virus. Now we can give back to the community, and they request that we keep on giving health information. They are very eager to be taught.
— Mildred Digolo, CHW
One group of women I met with said that most of them lost their babies due to food choking and lack of knowledge. After the session they promised that they would never again lose anyone due to choking. CHWs assist with day-to-day health issues, providing communities with basic self-care. The community no longer has to go to the hospital for simple sicknesses such as headaches because they know how to manage such illnesses themselves. I am glad the communities have taken our teaching positively and are sticking to the awareness on prevention measures on certain diseases. I thank WiRED and its team for making our communities’ dream on better health come true.
— Bunnyce Atieno, CHW