Molo District Public Health Service partnered with Powys Health Board to undertake training of Community Health Extension Workers (CHEWs), which consist mainly of Public Health employees and nurses, to ensure improved data management, monitoring and evaluation skills, with a view to better evaluate the progress of the National Community Strategy. This emanated from the rollout of the National Community Health Strategy that decentralised the management of health to communities; however, existing community structures were inadequate in capacity to ensure accurate monitoring of progress and management of data and information.

CHEWs: the steps to the community

The link began with the training of Community Health Extension Workers. CHEWs are mainly ministry of public health and medical services employees. Through the notion of training the trainers, CHEWs trained the Community Health Workers (CHWs). CHWs are members of the community who then become Community Own Resource Persons (CORPs) who serve the community on a voluntary basis.  The trainings were in monitoring and evaluation and also on the national community health strategy. They were also supported with bicycles to facilitate their movement in the community.  A total of 350 CHEWs and CHWs were trained.

Making a difference in the community: Molo and Powys

The training of CHEWs and CHWs has significantly helped in updating knowledge and skills. There has been marked improvement in immunization coverage from the previous 53% to currently 78% against a target of 90%. There is an upsurge in the number of people testing for HIV in the various Voluntary Counseling and Testing centres in the district, with the district reporting a 40% increase in the number of people testing for HIV. There has been an improvement in information flow and recording of data both at the facility level (hospital, dispensary) and at the community level. Support with tools and equipment such as computers and bicycles has enabled CHWs to reach difficult areas thus being able to monitor and record changes in the community.

There is closer collaboration between various departments, ministries and other stakeholders in the implementation of activities. Previously, these stakeholders operated in silos and did not seek support from others. Synergy has evolved where in one instance training was held at a local church and the funds paid for hosting enabled the church to repair their roof. Subsequent trainings at the venue were held at no cost as the church offered it for free.

Uniform and more accurate messages are being delivered to the communities. This was realised as critical in being able to influence positive behavior change amongst people.

IHLFS Team, British Council Kenya