Treating Children close to home; impact of Community Health Volunteers in delivery of life –saving treatment to children under 5 years in Mandera County
By Hassan Mumin
Mr. Ahmed Mohamed, a community health volunteer (CHV) picks up his tools of trade, a small bag containing some essential drugs to manage life-threatening manageable conditions like diarrhoea and fever and heads to one of the homesteads in a remote village in Takaba, Mandera County.
“As-salamu alaykum,” said Ahmed as he greeted Habiba, baby Barwaka’s mother whom he had been informed was not feeling well. Barwaka, 4, had been unwell for two days with bouts of diarrhoea and complaining of abdominal pains.
After getting the full history and examining the child, Ahmed tells Barwaka’s mother her baby will need to take ORS, a powder mixed with water used to treat dehydration as result of diarrhoea and some zinc tablets to treat her condition.
Diarrhoea is among the leading causes of mortality in children younger than 5 years old. Simple and effective therapies for treating such conditions do exist, but children in poor rural communities often do not have access to formal healthcare. Delivery of care through CHVs can increase coverage of specific treatments leading to substantial reductions in child mortality. Save the Children in partnership with Mandera County Department of Health is implementing an integrated community case management (iCCM) programme to treat common childhood illnesses like diarrhoea, malaria and malnutrition for children aged between two months and five years at household and community levels through a chain of 40 CHVs in 25 selected villages across Mandera West and Banissa sub-counties.
“We are now able to get treatment at our village and homes. Previously we would have been forced to travel to the County hospital in Takaba which is 10kms away. With my small business of selling foodstuffs and four children to take care of, I will now have more time to take care of my business as trips to the hospital are now minimized as I will be going there for emergency cases only,” said Habiba in Garreh the local language with a smile on her face.
Save the Children with funding from Hyundai is implementing a quality child health service delivery project through an equity based strategy of iCCM that includes identification, treatment, follow-ups and referrals of key childhood illnesses of diarrhoea, fever, malaria, malnutrition and referral of pneumonia cases that targets the most deprived children living in communities with limited access to healthcare. In addition, the project also targets and supports children living with disability by identifying, offering rehabilitation & treatment and provision of assistive devices to enable them achieve their full potential in life through a community based rehabilitation approach of awareness creation, participation and comprehensive accessibility to health and other relevant services.
The CHVs like Mr. Ahmed underwent a series of trainings including management of acute malnutrition, integrated community case management for diarrhoea, fever, malaria and pneumonia to ensure delivery of high quality services at community level. Monthly comprehensive community outreaches will complement the work of CHVs.