By Taylor Capizola, Communications Coordinator, Living Goods,
In mid-2019, Isiolo County in Kenya celebrated a major milestone in the delivery of community health services with the graduation of nearly 350 community health workers (CHWs) during the formal launch of the county’s community health partnership with Living Goods. This four-year, co-financed project will provide robust digital technology to 720 government CHWs and is expected to directly benefit more than 40,000 households across Isiolo, Merti, and Garbatulla sub-counties, with a primary focus on improving maternal and child health. The initiative will also vastly increase CHW coverage for residents in Isiolo County while supporting improved reporting.
Isiolo County Governor, Dr. Mohamed Kuti, presided over the high-profile launch and graduation ceremony, which was attended by other Isiolo County leaders, Isiolo residents, two county governors, representatives from the national government, representatives from Living Goods, other community health stakeholders, and the media.
Governor Kuti, accompanied by Machakos Governor, Dr. Alfred Mutua, and Kisumu Governor, Professor Anyang Nyong’o, launched the day’s festivities with dancing and celebration. The governors preside over three of the four universal health coverage (UHC) pilot counties in Kenya following the national momentum and attention toward achieving UHC as one of the four pillars of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four Agenda.
As one of the four UHC pilot counties, Isiolo County is giving increased attention to strengthening its community health systems as a way of achieving UHC.
“Living Goods is enormously proud to be associated with such a bold vision, and we are delighted to support you as a committed partner in this journey. We pledge to significantly strengthen the delivery of community health services in Isiolo County by equipping community health volunteers with effective diagnostic technology using real-time digital health tools. In partnership with the government, we will also help health supervisors really support and manage CHWs, to ensure that the people of Isiolo receive high-quality, standardized care at their doorsteps,” said Living Goods CEO, Liz Jarman at the event.
Empowering CHWs in Isiolo will not only help achieve UHC, but it will also pave the way for digital data integration into the government’s health data system, DHIS2. Using Living Goods’ digital health application, Smart Health, CHW-gathered data is expected to start integrating into DHIS2 by end of August 2019, making Living Goods the first nonprofit to undertake DHIS2 data integration in partnership with government.
To further facilitate the project’s success, Living Goods invested in a project vehicle and 10 motorbikes, ceremoniously handed over to the county in a ribbon-cutting ceremony led by Governor Kuti and his Machakos and Kisumu counterparts. At the culmination of the partnership, the vehicles will officially belong to the county.
Following a day full of celebration and ceremony, Governor Kuti commissioned the graduates for service across Isiolo, Merti, and Gabartulla sub-counties.
“Proper healthcare is not a favor: it is right. It is our duty as leaders to give our people their right to quality healthcare,” said Dr. Mutua.
Addressing the graduating class, Governor Kuti said, “To all of you 342 graduates, I give you the powers to practice and serve your communities as community health volunteers. We will support, train, motivate and equip you so that you deliver in your roles. Congratulations!”
The newly-trained CHW workforce, equipped with commodities supplied by the county and digital tools from Living Goods, will now have the capacity to register households digitally and offer high-quality health services, including education, assessments, approved treatments, and referrals with an aim at reaching the underserved and unreached households in the arid and nomadic county.
The second cohort of CHWs will be trained in August 2019 to ensure full coverage across all Isiolo’s sub-counties. Living Goods will continue to align itself with the county’s priorities to deliver well-trained CHW workforces, digital technology solutions, and innovative health systems strengthening approaches that address the county’s most pressing health care issues.