Kirinyaga County Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) are set to receive a monthly stipend in a cost sharing arrangement that will see the national and county government fund the program.
Governor Anne Waiguru has said that her administration has already factored in the health volunteers’ remuneration in next financial year’s budget.
This will see about 2,000 CHVs start receiving their pay from July this year.
She further observed that the volunteers have since been given a new reference term and they will now be called Community Health Promoters (CHPs).
At the same time, the CHVs will be equipped with standardized medical kits holding tools that can undertake basic tests such as for blood pressure, sugar levels and temperature.
Waiguru said that the county government shall be providing Ksh. 2,500 while the national government provides an equal amount that will enable each of the workers to get a stipend of Ksh. 5,000 per month.
The governor observed that the volunteers form a critical component of healthcare service delivery in the county since they are the first point of contact for patients in the community.
She added that they play an important role in promotion of healthy communities through educating the public on disease prevention and control as well as hygiene.
Community Health Promoters in the county have received the news with joy and appreciation saying that it will relief them of the burden they have had to carry in the course of their community service.
Though many of them have relentlessly served their communities for years, they have been encountering challenges especially when it comes to funding expenses such as airtime or transport.
“We are now very happy that the government has decided to give us some money to facilitate our work. It will go a long way in enabling us serve our communities better. The stipend will enable us meet the cost of airtime that we use when coordinating our services in the grassroots,” said Rubi Mohammed, a community health volunteer in Kutus.
She pointed out that their work revolves around visiting households and finding out whether there are health issues that need to be addressed.
In case of situations that they cannot address at home, they refer the cases to the nearest health facility for management.
Each of the volunteer is attached to a level two health facility within the locality and also works together with the county’s Community Health Workers
Rubi’s counterpart, Njeru Thiga who is in charge of Kanjata community health unit in Nyangati ward, said that each of the community health workers takes care of around 100 households.
He said that he has dedicated Tuesdays and Fridays as the days he visits them but he is always available to attend to any emerging issues any day.
“I believe when my community is healthy, I am also healthy,” said Njeru, thanking the government for looking into their plight and considering to give them a stipend as well as equip them for their work.
The County Executive Committee Member for Health, George Karoki, acknowledged that community health volunteers help a great deal when it comes to making follow-ups on patients on mandatory treatment for ailments such as T.B. and HIV.
Such follow up care has led to reduction of cases of people who suffer or die as a result of absconding medication.
“They also follow up on pregnant women to ensure that they are attending their antenatal clinics accordingly and that they deliver their babies in a health center. After delivery, the volunteers also make follow ups to ensure that the mothers attend postnatal clinics and that their babies attend the child welfare clinics,” said the CECM.
He said that the department of health has been training community health volunteers on how to offer basic homecare services for patients.
He said that the role played by community health volunteers is very vital since they are able to penetrate the community and offer the much needed public health education, which has had huge impact on reduction and prevention of many diseases.
One of the most impactful outcomes of intensified community health promotion in Kirinyaga is the drastic drop in malaria cases whereby the 360,000 cases reported in 2005 have steadily been reducing to the current 25,000 to 30,000 cases per year.
This has been due to education of county residents on the importance of sleeping under insecticide treated mosquito nets, a campaign that community health volunteers have actively participated in.
There has also been a reduction of epidemics such as diarrhea due to sustained community health education that has made residents adopt good hygiene practices such as washing of hands, fruits and vegetables before eating them.