By Jennifer Hyman, Director of Communications, Living Goods
Living Goods and Kenya’s Isiolo County government have just signed a four-year partnership that will vastly expand the access local families have to community-based primary health care services. Through this effort, co-funded by both entities, Living Goods will be responsible for managing all community health services within Isiolo county, with a focus on ameliorating the most easily treatable yet deadly health issues that affect mothers and children under age 5.
Under the agreement, Living Goods will create demand for and provide community health services in all three Isiolo sub-counties—Isiolo, Merti, and Garbatulla—through a package of targeted technical assistance that will support the county government in strengthening its health services delivery. While Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta has named the attainment of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) a core pillar of his administration and just announced the launch of a pilot program to achieve UHC in Isiolo, Kisumu, Nyeri, and Machakos Counties, the decentralized nature of Kenya’s government requires each county determine how to finance and manage such efforts.
Millions of children around the world die each year from easily preventable and treatable diseases like pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria, due to lack of access to formal health facilities and doctors, insufficient follow-up and referrals, and poor supply chains and quality drugs. Community health provides a high-impact and low-cost solution to these challenges by providing care for the critically and chronically ill and alleviating pressure on health facilities.
A largely arid region comprised of nomadic communities that are highly moble and widely dispersed, Isiolo County faces several challenges in the realization of community health goals. These include poor motivation of community health workers—known as community health volunteers (CHVs) in Kenya—limited use of technology to support service provision, and lack of essential medicines. In addition, access to real-time data on health worker activities is limited and there are no clear guidelines for community health extension workers (CHEWs) and county health management teams, which are meant to supervise the CHVs.
Through this method of innovatively financing health services, Living Goods and the county government will split the cost of the community health program equally in the first year, with the county government shouldering more of the costs towards the close of the partnership. Over the course of the 4-year partnership, Living Goods will work with the government to ensure that plans are in place to ensure the program’s long-term management and sustainability.
“Through this partnership, CHVs will help prevent diseases at the community level through sensitizing locals on proper hygiene practices, public health initiatives, immunization counselling, check-ups, and ante-natal services to reduce the high maternal mortality rates in the region,” said Isiolo County Governor Dr. Mohamed Kuti.
Living Goods brings more than a decade of community health expertise to Isiolo—its sixth county of operation in Kenya. In this mutually-strategic partnership, Living Goods is tasked with providing technical expertise to strengthen existing community health structures and equipping 720 CHVs to effectively deliver customized and consistently high-quality services to households. Specialized expertise will include providing a cost-effective integrated service delivery platform for CHVs, digital health solutions to improve quality of care, best-in-class performance management and supportive supervision, and a motivating performance-based incentive to drive delivery.
Community health service delivery under this arrangement will emphasize the integrated community case management (iCCM) approach to holistically diagnose, treat and provide follow-up services for pneumonia and diarrhea among children under-five, maternal newborn and child health services, and nutrition for pregnant mothers and children under-five. Family planning and immunization counseling and referral services as Living Goods rolls out these services across Kenya; CHVs will be trained to treat malaria, as well, though the disease is not endemic in Isiolo.
“The overall goal of this contract is to help transform the health function in Isiolo County into a model showcasing how innovative partnerships to deliver specific health interventions can cost-effectively accelerate impact and improve health outcomes at the community level,” said Living Goods Country Director Thomas Onyango.
Living Goods supports more than 1,800 CHVs in a total of 13 sub-counties across Busia, Kisii, Kakamega, Nakuru, and Kiambu counties. Efforts are underway to support at least 7,500 CHVs serving more than 6 million people in Kenya by 2021. In the past year, Living Goods-supported CHVs have visited nearly 300,000 households serving more than 320,000 under-fives and more than 76,000 under-ones.
Living Goods is a non-profit organization that seeks to drive lasting impact in community health through innovative approaches delivered in partnership with government. By leveraging cutting-edge technology and innovative approaches to transform the delivery of essential health care, Living Goods works to save and improve lives in resource-constrained communities, particularly for mothers and children under the age of five years.
Living Goods supports networks of performance-driven community health workers from existing government pools to go door-to-door in their communities educating, assessing and treating families for critical health issues. Armed with life-saving medicines and a smartphone loaded with a robust diagnostic health application, Living Goods-supported CHVs are often the first point of contact for communities with the health system. They manage referrals to nearby health facilities for complicated cases and provide follow-up care.
Living Goods has more than a decade of experience in strengthening high-impact and cost-effective community health programs in Kenya and Uganda.