Community Health Worker in Matala, Angola on a Mission

by Amref Health Africa

Daniel Canivete is a Community Health Worker (CHW) in Matala, Huila Province in Angola. He is a husband and a father of eleven and has served for more than four years as a CHW. Daniel is the link between the community and the health facility and continues to take pride in serving his community.

His choice to become a CHW was to see his community healthy and keep his family free from diseases. “This is what motivated me to be a CHW. I enjoy my work,” he says.

He is among the 20 pro-active and trusted CHWs in Matala who have dedicated their lives in ensuring their communities live healthier and dignified lives.

Through Africare, the implementing partner of Amref Health Africa’s-GSK Programme, Daniel was trained on prevention and control of communicable diseases related to water and sanitation practices and how he can help communities reduce these diseases.

‘‘I walk from house to house sharing health information with families, while distributing chlorine from the municipal offices for water treatment. During the house visits, we teach the community on good health, personal hygiene and importance of drinking safe water,” says Daniel. ‘‘We refer anyone we find sick and need medical attention to the nearest health facility. At times, we accompany them but in most cases we advise them to visit on their own.’’

Daniel attests that before the training, a lot of people in his community did not treat water, which led to an increase of diarrhea cases and abdominal pains among community members. “We thank the municipal team because they give us the chorine for free and we also distribute it free to the community members,” he says.

Daniel emphasises on handwashing with soap and running water as a key preventive measure against water-borne and hygiene related diseases such as cholera and dysentery. For homesteads that do not have running water, he encourages them to build tippy taps – improvised handwashing materials that are made of locally available materials – near their pit latrines.

Together with other CHWs, they organise community health campaigns where they work with community members and students to clean their respective homes, schools and market areas. This has led to improved cleanliness in the community.

The impact of their efforts is evident: ‘‘Diarrhea cases have greatly reduced since the project has sensitised community members on proper fecal disposal. In the past, you could find fecal matter all over the place as you walk in the community. Today, if you walk you will realise that the area is clean because people are

using pit latrines, “he confirms. “Some areas have been declared open defecation free by the government ministries.”

Lack of transport is one of the challenges Daniel and other CHWs face in their work. He has to cover almost 15 kilometers, which at times it becomes difficult to reach everyone in his community. In addition, CHWs do not receive any remuneration from the government.

“We would like to request Africare and the government to find a way to support us. At times, it becomes a big challenge to refer a patient because the patient does not have money and there is no ambulance,” says Daniel.

Despite the hurdles, Daniel is thankful to his community members who motivate him and applaud his work. He appreciates his family who serve as a good example in the community. “I have trained everybody in my family including my children how to wash their hands. We keep the grass in the compound short at all times and ensure that we burn waste that is generated at home,’’ he concludes.

Through Africare, the project has trained a total of 863 CHWs on sensitisation of communities to build and use latrines, water and hygiene education, handwashing with soap, effective cleanup campaigns, household waste management, and the functioning of parents, teachers associations according to Angolan law. With support from CHWs like Daniel, the project has also conducted 3,464 cleanup campaigns with over 65,000 people participating and involved 101 schools.

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