Meet David Domongura, a Community Health Volunteer (CHV) from Sarmach village in West Pokot County who also doubles up as the Chairperson for Sarmach Community Health Unit. Formed in Late 2019, the group has made great progress towards improving the healthcare system in their village, and the county at large.
West Pokot County is predominantly semi-arid, and largely populated by pastoralists, but also characterised by issues of inadequate health facilities and limited medical equipment in available facilities. These problems, compounded by long distance to facilities, and difficulties in patience follow-ups, highly contributed to poor health ratings/status of the county.
Prior to the formation of the Health Unit, the community members suffered from numerous health challenges which they felt could be addressed at the local level. “We were experiencing many cases of typhoid outbreak, malnutrition, and maternal deaths, among others. These challenges prompted the formation of the Health Unit – a group that brings together CHVs to address the health-related issues within the region and ensure equitable access of primary healthcare services among the community members,” said David. The group has 16 active members (9 Male and 7 Females) serving at least 600 households in the village.
Efforts of the CHV group received a major boost through the Ustahimilivu Project (A consortium that brings together Amref Health Africa, North Rangelands Trust, E4Impact, CEFA, SOMINEREC, MASOL Community Conservancy, and Pellow Community Conservancy). This is a project funded by the European Union, with Amref Health Africa leading the implementation of programmes aimed at addressing the issues of maternal mortality/ deaths, malnutrition, and sanitation issues within the region. David (standing) addresses members of his Community Health Unit during a monthly meeting
Amref Health Africa’s support to the group ranges from the supply of drugs and diagnostics, and IEC material and stationery, as well as facilitation of group monthly and community dialogue meetings, to Ministry of Health tools and trainings.
Barely a year of partnership with Amref, Sarmach Community Health Volunteers Group boasts of impressive results that include an increased number of hospital deliveries, uptake of both ante-natal and post-natal services, and HIV-related services. There has also been an increase in the acceptance of good sanitation practices and behaviours such as regular handwashing, and the use of clean water for drinking. These were practices that were previously unpopular among the communities.
“Through the support of Amref, Sarmach village now has better health services. This is evident by the recently upgraded and equipped Sarmach Medical Centre which serves a whopping average of 100 patients up from an average of 40 per day. Hospital Deliveries have also shot up from an average of 2 deliveries per month to an average of 10 deliveries per month,” says David. “Through the training sessions held on nutrition, supported by Amref, through the Ustahimilivu project, we have noted a reduced number of deaths and cases of malnutrition in the larger Sarmach region. This is just the start – with your support, we will achieve much more.”
The group holds monthly meetings and bi-monthly dialogue sessions with community members to create awareness and review trends on matters ranging from nutrition, family planning, HIV/ AIDS, water and sanitation, and mental health, among other areas. David requests for more support citing an increase in the population being served as people from other communities and villages throng the local health facility in search of services.
Story written by: Anthony Muninzwa, Communication Assistant – Amref Health Africa