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Siaya County becomes the first to employ community health volunteers

Written by Henry Kahara

Siaya County has become the first county in Kenya to employ Community Health Volunteers.

In this financial year Siaya County government has set aside Ksh5 million which will pay the 2,148 health volunteers who work with the community in the county on daily basis.

 The 2,148 are representative of the people from all the villages which make Siaya County. The County comprises of five constituencies; Ugenya, Alego, Siaya, Bondo and Rarieda.

For now each health volunteer will be getting a stipend of Ksh2000 per month besides the fact that the county government will pay their National Hospital Insurance Fund NHIF which will cover at least five dependant people in their respective families.

According to Siaya County government Community Health Focal person Mr John Odera the move is in relation to the county governor’s Cornel Rasanga’s manifesto.

“Our governor manifesto main agenda was to improve health in the county, improve education level and enhance food security,” says Odera.

Odera says that the community health volunteers are meant to make sure that health services reach people in the grassroots.

“Community health workers will help to improve the health seeking behavior in the grassroots than before,” he notes.

Currently Siaya County Health Volunteers have been equipped with knowledge on how to treat the main killer diseases in the area.

“They have been trained to treat malaria, diarrhea and pneumonia which has been killing people in this area especially children under five,” notes Odera.

Each Community Health Volunteer has been provided with Rapid Diagnosed Test (RDT) for malaria.

After conducting a search and find that the symptoms are positive they gave you anti malaria drug but if they find it severe they refer you to the hospital.Benta Odhiambo together with her husband Samuel Odhiambo are some of the beneficiaries of the services offered by community health volunteers.

Benta Odhiambo together with her husband Samuel Odhiambo had earlier this week benefitted from the services offered by community health volunteers.

“Early this week our first born child was very sick when we called Emmah, their household Community volunteer she treated her and even the following day she went to school,” says Samuel.

Samuel says that community health volunteers have made their lives better since they access them even at night when the dispensaries have closed.

{jb_quoteright}“Many of our dispensaries close at 5pm so after that you can’t access them but now you can access the Community health volunteers whenever you need them to treat any member of you family,” says Samuel Odhiambo{/jb_quoteright}

“Many of our dispensaries close at 5pm so after that you can’t access them but now you can access the Community health volunteers whenever you need them to treat any member of you family,” says Samuel a casual laborer.

They also link us with the nurses and doctors in hospital so if the case is beyond them they call in the dispensary immediately and as you arrive in hospital you find the doctor ready,” says Samuel.

“Furthermore they have been teaching us on other health issues on the importance of washing hands and using latrines. They have also taught us on maintaining cleanliness in our houses,” adds Benta.

Emmah Odera public health officer in charge of East Uyoma Location says that in the year 2012 only 24 percent of the residents used pit latrine but for now statistics have risen to 96 percent.

Emmah owe the gain to the community health volunteers who have tirelessly been talking to the community in the barazas as well as in their houses on the importance of toilets.

“The four percent which is yet to build latrines are the old people and we are planning to build for them,” says Emmah.

“Latrines have improved the hygiene in the area hence eliminating diarrhea cases,” she notes.

Emmah adds that hospital delivery in the county has also gone up courtesy of Community health volunteer.

Kenyan Constitution 2010 clearly states that everyone has a right to health specifically article 43(1) of the Constitution guarantees every individual the highest attainable standard of health and provides that no individual may at any moment be denied emergency medical care which is important to the realization of the right to life. On the other hand, Article 53 (1) (c) specifically provides for the right of every child to adequate health care.

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