Through your support and the additional funding we received from the Team Mum campaign, we have been able to enhance some of the activities in our Pregnant Women’s Groups project in Kenya. This will ensure that we can engage far-to-reach communities in a timely fashion.
Expanding our CHV network
One such activity that we have been able to improve upon with the funding is the number of Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) that will be working on the project moving forward. From initially working with only six CHVs, we shall now be working with 30 CHVs to recruit pregnant women into groups as well as conducting the Pregnant Women's Groups (PWG) sessions!
To make this a reality, we started by interviewing and selecting CHVs from a pool of 100 CHVs in the sub-county. Following the selection process, we conducted a training workshop for 24 CHVs that had been successful in the interviews. The training was to ensure that all the CHVs were well-equipped with the knowledge and skills they needed to conduct the PWG sessions and that they were well versed with the project’s monitoring tools.
Highlights of CHV training
One of the major highlights of the training was the session on role-plays where the participants were required to apply the new knowledge and skills acquired during the workshop in a PWG-simulated setup. This session brought out every participant’s personality as well as allowing the project team a chance to have a personal interaction with each of the CHVs.The most interesting part of this session was when the participants were asked to identify and correct mistakes they had picked up from their peers in the course of the role plays.
At one point, a CHV who was role-playing a maternal nutrition session and was illustrating what not to eat during pregnancy tested the others by saying, “A pregnant woman should not take alcohol during pregnancy but when she delivers she should take two Guinness to reduce spasms after delivery. She should also avoid drinking hot water to avoid the baby being born with a birth-mark.” The other CHVs quickly interrupted her and corrected the message which they termed as part of the myths and misconceptions associated with pregnancy in the community. This was a great demonstration that the CHVs had understood the concepts from the training sessions.
During another session on postnatal care, under the family planning, one CHV innocently raised her hand and said, “Drinking warm water is a natural form of family planning which I practised after the birth of my first child.” Another CHV explained how an Intrauterine Contraceptive Device (IUCD) can end up inside one of the blood vessels in the heart, while another suggested that women who take pills as a form of family planning end up having them lined up on the lining of the fallopian tube.
Busting myths and misconceptions
The project team led them into identifying the different myths and misconceptions related to family planning and, in the end, gave factual information related to the various methods of family planning available. At the end of the session, the CHVs could mention at least three family planning methods and were excited to share their newly acquired knowledge amongst themselves the next morning during the recap session.
These are a few examples to show how important this training was in reinforcing the existing knowledge and debunking the many myths and misconceptions related to pregnancy in the community even amongst health workers.
Working with the Sub-county
Also in attendance during this workshop were members of the Sub-county health committee. In her closing remarks, this is what the Sub-county Public Health Nurse had to say:
We are very grateful to Child.org for seeing the need to train more CHVs in this sub county and for helping us identify locations that did not have formed community units. This will ensure that we have more voices speaking for pregnant women in the community. This will also help in strengthening our community health strategy system. We are looking forward to a situation where all the 100 existing community health volunteers in the Sub-county will go through the same training. We recognise the role they play in the community as the first contact for any pregnant woman seeking health information from a health worker and so it is important that they are equipped with the right information."
We as the programming team are very excited to see this new model of working community health volunteers rolling out over the next couple of weeks. This new model means that every community unit within the project will have a trained CHV to respond to the needs of pregnant women in her unit. It will reduce the travel distance that the six CHVs we have been working with from one community unit to another to reach the women. It will also ensure closer and regular contact with every pregnant woman enrolled in the groups. Most importantly, this is an opportunity for the project to strengthen existing health systems for the sustainability of the project!