Community health workers boost fight against malaria
By Lilian Kaivilu
On a chilly morning, Mary Kemumo Peter, prepares to leave her home for her routine home visits within Motanya Village in Bobasi area of Kisii county.
On her back is a rapid diagnostic test kit that she uses to detect cases of malaria. Kemumo is a community health worker in charge of 108 households in the constituency. Her daily job is to ensure prevent any cases of malaria in the region. She has done this since 2013 with other community health workers and volunteers. “We go from house to house visiting people, promoting health, nutrition and general welfare of the people. We also encourage proper hygiene and good diet,” she explains.
In a month, Kemumo says she records about five cases of malaria, a drop from the numbers in 2013 when she became a community health worker. According to the Health Sector Human Resources Strategy 2014-2018, malaria was the leading cause of death in Nyanza region, with 4520 deaths being reported in 2012. But Kemumo says the numbers have reduced.
“Since I started operating here in 2013, I have not witnessed any case of death from malaria. Previously, people would flock the health centres but today, the case is different,” she explains. She is among the 7, 350health workers being supported by Amref Health Africa. Amref Health Africa supports the health workers in collaboration with other organisations. The organisation pays her Sh2,000 every month to facilitate her operations as she visits the various homes.
When she cannot visit all the 108 homesteads, Kemuma who is also a farmer, uses the church as a meeting point and a place to get updates from the families in her list of health watch.
Jared Oule, the Global Fund Malaria Project Manager says the malaria programme is being implemented in Kisii, Nyamira, Migori, Homabay, Kisumu,Siaya, Vihiga, Kakamega, Bungoma and Busia counties. “Since we introduced this programme, about 6,000 deaths are prevented in a year. This translates into 24,000 deaths prevented in the past 4 years,” Oule says.
Florence Nyangora, Kisii County Malaria control coordinator says that the county has adopted strategies such as net distribution and residual spraying in mosquito breeding areas in order to contain the disease.
According to Nyangora, the county distributes mosquito nets to pregnant mothers and children under one year. “For universal coverage, we also do mass net distribution whereby we target to have at least two people per household share a mosquito net.”