December 12, 2014
Community residents discuss health and hygiene
JICA's Project for Strengthening Community Health Strategy, which supported an initiative of the government of Kenya, came to an end in September with many achievements.
Results of the project include increasing the number of births in medical facilities, the number of toilets built and the rate of immunization. And the number of community health units, which was 800 when the assistance began in 2009, had increased to nearly 3,000 when the project ended. It also succeeded in strengthening the teaching capacity of community health evangelists and the ties among community health centers.
To combat a lack of health practitioners and facilities in Kenya, the government launched the Kenya Community Health Strategy in 2006. In Kenya, there are regions where it takes a day to receive an examination or where a person has to walk more than 10 kilometers to reach a health center.
The strategy views the community as one part of the health system and envisions not only the provision of fundamental health services, but residents themselves engaging in prevention and health promoting activities to improve and maintain their health. As part of the strategy, public health engineers, public health nurses, nutritionists and other community health evangelists who have certifications, along with health volunteers chosen from the community, go around to community health units (1) and support residents in various activities.
Since 2009, JICA had been dispatching experts to provide assistance, but no path had yet been found for implementing community health services throughout the country. So in October 2011, it started the Project for Strengthening Community Health Strategy, aiming to strengthen policy management capacity in order to cultivate human resources who could devise, review and revise guidelines, action plans, education materials and the like for strategic expansion of the policy. The project in particular emphasized case workers of the Ministry of Health understanding the situation in communities, or the field, and reflecting data and voices from the field in policy, educational materials and the like.
The project also collaborated with rapper Juliani in creating a community health song. "Afya Yetu, Jukumu Letu," which means "Our Health, Our Responsibility," helped spread that community health slogan among young people.
His music video is available below.
In November, JICA started the subsequent Project for Organizational Capacity Development for Devolved County Health Systems in Kenya, targeting local governments.
1: One community health unit consists of 5,000 people.