It is true that one of the major barriers to access to health services is due to lack of correct information by communities who need these services.

When people have inadequate information, especially in rural areas, there is room for rumours and myths which make it more difficult for clients to get motivated to seek much needed reproductive health services such as family planning and cervical cancer screening.
Besides the propaganda and half-truths on family planning, there is a perceived high cost of family planning, making it out of reach for majority of the poor in rural Kenya. I had a session with a community health volunteer from Bungoma Sub-county who is using the knowledge and community engagement skills he has acquired as a trained Community Health Volunteer (CHV) by KMET, a local NGO working in the area, to break the cycle of myths regarding reproductive health services in his village.

Interviewer: Tell me about yourself?
John: I am John Mtunguti one of the few male Community Health Volunteers from Mademo unit in Kanduyi Sub county in Bungoma County. I cover one hundred and thirty-eight (138) households in that unit and I am attached to Jordan Clinic, a KMET supported facility. I have been a CHV for more than three years now.
Interviewer: What are some of your roles as a CHV?
John: I mobilise clients from the household level in the village for health services, counsel and sensitise the community on available child health and family planning services at Jordan Clinic and carry out referrals and follow up on the clients.
Interviewer: Which age group makes a majority of your clients?
John: When the schools close, we see a good number of young people below the age of 25 years but during regular school days we reach older adults, the majority being women. I reach out to more to couples and older adults than young people.

Interviewer: How else apart from making household referrals do you ensure your clients receive services?

John: We conduct at least two outreach programs in a month in partnership with Bungoma County Hospital where we involve other community health volunteers in mobilising people through Chief Baraza’s, church announcements and we walk around announcing the services using megaphones. This way we reach more clients than those who walk into the facility from day to day.

Interviewer: How is the community’s reception of the health services specifically on contraceptive use and cervical cancer screening?

John: There is still a lot of misconception and myths surrounding cervical cancer screening and other invasive procedures like the insertion of the coil. Many women have a perception that they are painful processes and that they involve insertion of sharp metals into the Vagina. I remember one women's group that I met when I was on community outreach; a member was fueling misinformation that the metallic speculum was the main cause of cervical cancer and that the procedure is very painful. In the group, there were those who thought the IUD (Intrauterine Device) insertion was a surgical procedure. I offered the correct information using our job aid and urged each of the women to come experience the services for themselves on a Huduma Poa- Outreach day. On the day of the outreach, all those women were the first ones to arrive at the venue. I felt happy and I smiled as I saw them come out of the service provision tents. I knew I had done something great.

Interviewer: How easy is it demystifying the myths?
John: It is never easy, but we have been trained on how to counter the half-truths and myths about these services. One of the techniques is to be consistent on telling the clients the truth. We talk about benefits and side effects of all contraceptive methods, this gives room for questions, especially on the side effects where most of the myths are based upon.
During our training by KMET, we were offered bags that contain all contraceptive products and a handbook on their information. This bag helps us so much because the client is able to see and touch the contraceptive method making it a lot easy to explain how they are administered, their benefits and possible side effects.

Interviewer: What is your most memorable client experience this year?
John: There is this female client I was talking to about family planning at her homestead. She had a big family hence was a potential client. At some point during our discussion, she began disputing the information I was offering about implants. She raised her voice and for a moment I thought she would ask me to leave. All this while her husband had been listening from inside the house and he came out. He asked the wife why she would not listen to ‘daktari’ and whether she does not want to plan their pregnancies. I booked them for a date with our health provider the next day at the facility and to date we are friends. They are on a five-year family planning method.

Interviewer: What motivates you as a CHV?
John: When I see women and children get the right information and medical attention I feel complete.

Interviewer: Any last words?
John: To all CHVs do not give up on difficult clients. You should strive to ensure the community understand their health needs and that they get the right, consistent information.