By Sylvia Nkatha Mwirigi, Public Health Coordinator
Public health is a key area in the society both in developed and developing countries. It is an area that every single person must be concerned. There is a very high child mortality rate in children due to malaria, HIV/AIDS, dysentery and upper respiratory infections. On the other hand, in the adults, HIV/AIDS is a great pandemic and malnutrition makes things even worse. Each time I think of such issues, I find my passion deepening in the health sector. Since I was young, I always knew my passion was in health. This explains why working with HopeCore gives me a great sense of belonging and fulfillment. I began working with HopeCore International on 7th April 2014. Before joining Hopecore, I had a guiding principle in making the decision. I always wanted to partner with an organization that is at least working to contribute to reaching Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Village HopeCore, though a young organization, is currently fulfilling 4 out of the 8 MDGs as follows.
Goal 1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger: HopeCore contributes to achieving this goal through the micro-enterprise department, which gives loans to the community to help them start business.
Goal 3. Promote gender equality and empower women: Similar to the above, this issue is addressed through funding women groups and training for both the boy child and girl child.
Goal 4. Reduce child mortality: By providing health care for children in schools through the mobile clinic, HopeCore is working toward this goal.
Goal 5. Improve maternal health: HopeCore is committed to offering family planning services to the women in the community at the Clinic. This gives the women an opportunity to meet with the nurses who counsels them on good methods of family planning and in turn improves their health.
My experience with HopeCore International is very good, so far. I have seen the success of a number projects but I want to highlight three malaria projects which were very successful. These three malaria projects, funded by the Peace Corps and introduced to us through our Peace Corps volunteer, Ed, were aimed at sensitizing and educating the community on the importance of malaria prevention. The malaria projects are as follows: 100 photos projects, the mural projects and the communication booth.
- The 100 Bed Net Photo Project: The public health department, in the process of the net monitoring process, took a total of 100 photographs of individuals from those specific homes with properly hanged mosquito nets. The digital photos were processed and hanged at an associate school called Mautini Primary School. This project was aimed at motivating and rewarding those specific people sleeping under mosquito nets. The wall of the photographs also generated discussion and drew attention to the widespread use and importance of mosquito nets in malaria prevention. HopeCore was able to demonstrate to the community that the strategies of malaria prevention are easy, available and effective. It was a good strategy for behavior change in the community especially after the members of community discussed amongst themselves the benefits of sleeping under a mosquito net.
- The Mural Project: This project entailed drawing of a mural depicting the importance of sleeping under a treated mosquito net. HopeCore International drew a mural depicting two people sleeping under a mosquito net. It is located opposite Chogoria Boys High school and the matatu stage at the Gateway Primary School building. The project aimed at reminding the viewers in passing of malaria prevention strategies. The artists brought extra traffic to the mural site out of pride of their work.
- The Malaria Information Booth: This was designed to provide a health message at an event held at Chogoria during a jua kali exhibition. This exhibition was organized by Chogoria Jua Kali, for the purpose of educating the community on the various products and services available to them. The objective of the malaria information booth was to reach several community members and provide lessons on the practical use of bed nets. Public Health Team was able to communicate to forty people the causes of malaria, preventative measures to combat malaria, the importance of sleeping under a treated mosquito net, maintenance of the nets, demonstration on how to hang and use the nets, and how to sew and patch mosquito nets in order to extend their longevity. One of the most engaging portions of the various discussions was the demonstration of sewing and patching the mosquito nets. By demonstrating that it was not necessary to purchase additional nets if the one currently hanging was torn, many community members seemed reassured there were alternative ways to protect their family. The community members were impressed by the ease of repairing the nets through both sewing and patching. They were told that they could use any old fabric to patch the nets, and therefore would be no additional cost to them.
While these three projects were successful and the Public Health Department is proud of our accomplishments, it is important to mention the other ongoing Public Health Department projects.
- Mobile health clinic in schools
- Malaria prevention and mosquito nets distribution in schools and community
- Home health visits as a way of follow up
- Distribution and installation of clean water tanks and hand washing water tanks in schools, with the possibility of expanding to churches as well
- Youth peer providers: distribution of contraceptives, counseling, and outreach events
This has been an exciting first month and I am looking forward to many more wonderful experiences with HopeCore.