US Ambassador to Kenya visits APHIAPlus Nuru ya Bonde Project

The US envoy to Kenya, Ambassador Robert Godec visited Laikipia County on a supervision tour of Kalalu Health Centre, a facility supported by the AIDS, Population and Health Integrated Assistance (AphiaPlus Nuru ya Bonde) project funded by USAID.

During the visit on Monday, June 3, 2013 Ambassador Godec described Kalalu Health Centre as an example of devolution in action, saying that devolution itself presents a big challenge but there is need for various partners to work together in order to alleviate the challenges.

The Ambassador further reaffirmed the American government’s commitment to help meet  health development challenges and solve  problems such as providing additional training and other resources to improve the health of local communities.

The envoy who was accompanied by USAID Kenya Mission Director Karen Freeman and other delegates toured the health facility which serves the Kalalu Community Health Unit (CHU), where he was given a tour of the maternal and child health clinic, outpatient department and laboratory.

Ambassador Godec was received by Esther Siringi, Nurse-in-charge at Kalalu Dispensary together with Dr Donald Mugoi Laikipia County Director Minister of Health, Peter Mwarogo Country Director FHI 360 and Ruth Odhiambo APHIAPlus Nuru ya Bonde Chief of Party.

The delegation visited the community unit gallery where Nurse Carolyne Wanjohi Wanjau, a Community Health Extension Worker (CHEW) attached to the unit presented data used by the unit to strategically improve health indicators in the community.

At the health facility grounds where more than 150 community members had gathered, Ms Siringi introduced Rose Ngatia the founder of Wemenye HIV Support Group and chairperson of the Community Health Committee (CHC).

Ms Ngatia thanked the people of Kalalu community for eliminating stigma for people living with HIV to enable them take their ARVs from the dispensary and pursue income generating activities to enrich their livelihoods.

The APHIAPlus Nuru ya Bonde consortium aims to empower people lead healthier lives by increasing access to high quality HIV/AIDS, reproductive health, family planning, maternal and child health services. APHIAPlus works with 5 strategic partners lead by FHI360, the Ministry of Health, Goldstar Kenya, NOPE and AMREF supporting the roll-out of the community health strategy.

The community health strategy is being implemented in 5 counties: Baringo, Narok, Kajiado and Laikipia. Currently, Laikipia has 11 functional Community Units (CUs) scattered in four districts. The CUs are structured through the establishment of CHCs whose members are identified by the community. The CHWs are trained using the government approved curriculum on basic knowledge and concepts on community strategy delivery in order to build capacity at household level. This effectively manages community health when communities are organized into functional units. Recruited CHEWs who support the community units are trained by the government.

So far the project has managed to put in place 11 out of 17 CUs (94%) targeted for the year 2013. APHIAPlus Nuru ya Bonde has set up 161 CUs since 2001 and currently supports 141 of them. In addition, the project has also supplied 10 bicycles in each CU, trained CHWs with 100% retention and supported the training of CHEWs on family planning, improved immunization and skilled deliveries.

Despite these achievements, the units are faced with challenges such as inadequate supply of kits and bicycles and a demotivated CHC team. The units also require seed money to register as Community Based Organisations (CBOs) to enhance their sustainability beyond the life of the project.

AMREF was represented by Programme Manager HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria Dr Koki Muli Kinagwi.