Public Health Project Report
When the November 2018 P4P team was in Kenya, one of their tasks was to gather information on child health, nutrition, parenting practices, clinic support and the role of Community Health Volunteers (CHVs). They conducted surveys with CHVs, Ogada Health Clinic staff, and the Ministry of Health nutritionist assigned to the area.
Team members Gabrielle Bulman and Skye Holm submitted an extensive report of their findings. Here is a snapshot of their invaluable information.
What are Community Health Volunteers and what is their role?
CHVs are unpaid volunteers trained through the Ministry of Health to conduct between 80 and 130 home visits per month to access each family's general health status.
CHVs are familiar with the common diseases in the area such as malnutrition, malaria, scabies and diarrhea illnesses. Depending on the severity of an illness, they will either provide counseling on treatment and prevention or refer the family to a clinic for further evaluation, treatment and possible enrollment in the Power of Milk program. CHVs then perform follow-up home visits.
How do CHVs monitor and address malnutrition?
Using a mid-upper arm circumference tape measurer, CHVs compare an infant's measurement to determine nutrition status. Mild malnutrition cases are counseled on diet and breastfeeding and caregivers are encouraged to go to the nearest clinic for well-child visits. Moderate to severe cases are referred to a nearby clinic.
CHVs encourage mothers to give birth at a clinic rather than at home, to breast feed for at least six months and provide a balanced diet when their children transition to solid foods.
How do clinics handle infant and childcare issues?
Area clinics offer varying levels of care. Some are staffed with clinic officers and nurses and some higher-level facilities have a nutritionist on staff. The biggest challenge is reaching infants who are often not brought into the clinics until they are deathly ill, hence the importance of CHVs referring at-risk infants to the clinic using the proper referral forms.
When infants are brought to a clinic, they are tracked with routine well child visits. Clinics then provide nutritional supplements when available. There has been a shortage of Plumpy'Nut™ for some time, so fortified flour is generally substituted.
How does the Power of Milk nutrition program work?
Caregivers bring the babies to the clinic (sometimes traveling several miles on foot) once a week where the infant's growth is charted. Currently 30 infants and caregivers receive nutritional supplements and listen to health and nutrition talks.