Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Exciting health updates at Vutakaka!

As we get ready for 2011 to come to a close, we are excited about a lot of things happening in our health department. Our health team runs a number of projects that help to improve the overall community health in the Takaungu area. Our health clinic has always been the base of our operations and sees about 400 people a month for general out-patient services. Out of this clinic, we run a Community Health Worker Unit in conjunction with the Ministry of Health, health education classes at 6 local schools and many community groups, and 3 HIV support groups. We believe strongly in this holistic approach to changing the health of the community and are so proud of our staff for working so hard to create change.

The first big news is that we are working on expanding our clinic services to the Mavueni area. Many of our clients come from this area, which is quite far from Takaungu, but still in the cachement area for the government’s Takaungu clinc. For many years the Ministry of Health has dreamed of opening a clinic in the Mavueni area to better serve this part of the sub-location. A building has been constructed by the Constituency Development Fund, but has not been completed due to a lack of funding. We hope to help to finish construction on the building, outfitting the building so it is ready for health services, and moving some of our staff over to Mavueni to drastically improve health in this area. The Ministry of Health can then take over the financial aspects of the clinic, and we will still be able to run health programs in this new area. We are so excited about this expansion, which will be low-cost, sustainable, and will help to better serve the population we work with. News of this project will be posted as it moves forward. Our nurse Valerian has been instrumental in organizing this expansion and we are happy to have him as we expand health coverage.

The second great thing happening is that the Community Health Unit that we started in partnership with the Ministry of Health has registered itself as a Community-Based Organization, which means they can access loans and grants on their own. Each of the 50 health workers are assigned 20 households where they monitor and try to improve health practices. This is a committed group of volunteers, but because most of them live on very little income, they need a way to have an income as a group to support the volunteers in their day-to-day health activities. The CBO registration is an important step. Our staff and international volunteers will continue to help this group connect with funding and small business ideas so that they can promote health in Takaungu for years to come.

Lastly, our health education department is getting a big boost from intern Katie Porter, who is working to finalize curriculums so that we can further expand the health education program to other schools and other organizations. Through the help of 2 volunteers in another area we were able to expand our program last year to 2 new schools. The solidified curriculum is important if we hope to continue bringing this program to new schools, as it will help formalize our health education. We are also running a class for Class 5 girls, a secondary school class, and many community classes to local groups. As we move forward we will finalize these curriculums as well. Thanks to Katie, Mohamed, Joy, and Joyce for all their hard work on health education.