Health volunteers at the frontline in patient care

A local administrator in SIaya hands over LLIN to a community health promoter. [Courtesy]

It is 7am on Mageta Island, a former colonial detention camp approximately 20km from Usenge town, neighbouring Uganda.

Millicent Anyango sets her mind to walk more than 6km to serve her community.

Locals refer to her as a nurse or sister. However, her only qualification is the passion to serve her people. She is not a trained nurse but a Community Health Promoter, also known as ‘Nyamrerwa’.

For Anyango, her duty requires attending to at least 100 families in the village, providing first aid to patients, or caring for terminally ill individuals. At times, she guides nursing mothers on proper feeding and self-care for themselves and their children.

For the past 10 years, Anyango has been working under the county government, receiving a stipend of Sh2,000.

“What drives me is passion and resilience as I take care of my sick patients in the village,” she explains.

Judith Atieno, another CHV from Uhundha village in Got-Agulu sub-location, shares the same challenges with Anyango. Having volunteered for more than five years, she sometimes spends the little money she receives on buying food and medicine for her patients before referring them to the nearest health facility.

“If my focus were on money, I wouldn’t have worked this long as a volunteer,” she says, adding that the number of home deliveries has reduced in her village since she can identify pregnant mothers in good time and refer them to ante-natal clinics.

According to the Department of Health, the impact of investment in community health services and CHPs is evident.

Regular household registration and visitation have improved, with a reduction in the malaria burden from 33 per cent to 19 per cent.

Through CHPs, the county’s skilled birth deliveries have also shot up to 96 per cent from 56 per cent, which has reduced maternal and child deaths.

Health county executive Dr Martin K’Onyango said investment in CHPs has also seen a reduction in mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

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