In the serene and relatively calm Kivaa Sub location of Masinga Sub County in Machakos County, off the Thika Garissa Highway, life is seemingly usual but not to over 60 men and women busy strategizing on how to improve the health of the children and mothers in the area.
A health facility along the road is filled with three groups of men and women holding regular meetings within the compound. Just outside the gate of Kivaa Sub-location Community Health Unit is a government ambulance, popularly referred to the locals as ‘Governor Mutua’ ambulance.
But the ambulance is just but a means for the 62 volunteers who have come together to address the health needs of residents in the area. The group comprising 40 women and 22 men comprises of community health workers, community health extension workers employed by the Ministry of Health and a community health committee.
Established in 2011 under the government’s community health programme, the Kivaa Community Unit (CU) consists of more than 50 trained health workers who are assigned 20 households each.
“Each community health worker is expected to keep track of the members of the 20 households under him by ensuring that they have adequate access to health services such as immunization, child protection, reproductive health, nutrition and disease control,”
explained the Kivaa CU Vice Chairman Charles Muia.
Currently, the CUs cover up to 1,000 households in the region and each CU is linked to a health centre for medical referrals.
“The Kivaa CU is linked with Kivaa Health Centre with the nurse in charge following up the community health workers and assisting them on matters of treatment and nursing care for the patients they refer,” said Muia.
According to the, Muia, the group’s main agenda is to ensure that all community members obtain immunization and health education towards reducing preventable diseases. He added that the CU members meet once every month to give report about the health status of the 20 households. He added:
“We bring forth such reports as the number of pregnant mothers, attendance of the antenatal clinics, follow-ups on immunization and growth monitoring of the children, follow-ups on ARV uptake by people living with HIV/Aids, TB defaulters and latrine construction.”
Jacinta Mutuku, a community health worker in the area says that the team also works to ensure child protection in Kivaa and its outskirts.
“With the help of Plan International in this area, we have so far arrested several people and initiated five cases in court and we hope justice will be given,” she said.
To improve their livelihoods as volunteers, the community health workers have registered a social group under which the members can access loans. So far, the group has saved more than 234, 000 which is used to advance loans to members. By April last year, the group had bought 139 goats which have been given to each member for rearing on behalf of the group. The group also has planted 1,500 seedlings which they sell to the community at subsidized prices.