In an effort to improve access to basic health care for nomadic pastoralist communities in Kenya, the Mothers’ Union has been working alongside the Ministry of Health to facilitate the training of Community Health Workers. They will form part of a community health unit, which is being established in each of the group ranches and will be led by a Community Health Committee. An extension worker (nurse) will be placed by the government within each committee. This approach is in line with the Ministry of Health’s Community Strategy.
In Laikipia district, 25 women and men are being trained as voluntary Community Health Workers in each of the eight targeted group ranches, with the objective of improving health care in their ranches. Further trainings will take place in Samburu district in future. Mothers’ Union anticipates that 200 health workers will be trained in total, along with 104 committee members. Together, they will be responsible for educating their communities on health issues through the dedicated promotion of good health behaviours.
The Community Health Workers will be able to conduct home visits for the 20 households they’ve each been charged with providing support to. In addition to preventing unnecessary illness by teaching community members to adopt safe and healthy practices, they will be able to treat minor ailments with a first aid kit.
They will also provide an important link to the nearest health services, referring complicated or urgent illnesses to hospitals or clinics for further attention. The Community Health Workers will actively promote care-seeking and patient compliance with prescribed treatment plans, organise village health activities, and act as positive role models within their communities.
In remote regions, access to basic health care is extremely limited. For nomadic pastoralists, movement is a part of daily life. This places further restrictions on their ability to access health services. Being a community-owned solution and easily accessible, the Community Health Workers will become a vital asset to their community by offering an inexpensive source of health information. In this way, Mothers’ Union is empowering local communities to play a role in offering a solution to some of the daily challenges they face.