The Invaluable Work of Community Health Volunteers

Gem Village, Kenya

 

Community Health Volunteers (CHV) are a part of an important network across our villages working to provide health education and services to families who may not otherwise have access to care. CHVs have been vital in creating demand for family planning at the community level, as well as linking women and families to the health facilities.

 

In the villages, CHVs are selected by their various communities and live in the areas they serve. Many of them live in places where many must travel long distances to reach a health care facility. But our village CHVs go door-to-door, discussing the health benefits of family planning, dispelling myths and misconceptions, and counseling women and their partners to find the best method of living healthy lives of their choice. The CHVs recognize the importance of family planning for the health of women and children, and the broader economic and social challenges their neighbors face in their day-to-day lives.

 

The community health volunteer model is not new to different villages in Kenya, as many countries recognize the importance of linking communities with health care facilities. However, significant questions remain around how to best organize and compensate CHVs. In our villages, we always have different ways of motivating our CHVs since they don’t get any payment. Our community recommends that CHVs should be paid, but most are not, which makes retention a challenge. Given its impact, the sustainability of the CHV model is an issue Kenya must address as it looks to consolidate and build on recent improvements in family health. Gem Village is one of such villages that has benefited from the effort of CHVs. They have brought great transformation by greatly reducing mom and child death rate.

 

Habiba
GHNI National Field Leader

 

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