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LET'S CONNECT

Baby getting treatment from AMREF personnel

Health Enablement and Learning Platform (HELP)

ABOUT HELP

HELP is a community based program centred on ensuring the most vulnerable and marginalised people get access to health care services.

Building on its successful eLearning platform, AMREF partnered with the M-PESA Foundation, Kenya’s Ministry of Health, Accenture Development Partnerships and Safaricom in 2012 to create the Health Enablement and Learning Platform (HELP). To enable this vision, the M-PESA Foundation invested Kshs. 54 million.

IMPLEMENTATION

The Government of Kenya through its representatives then called a baraza (meeting) in the carefully selected areas of Kibera, Samburu and Mwingi. Explaining the intentions of HELP, the area Chief asked residents to choose those amongst them that they felt were best placed to spearhead the programme.

The decision was based on a curriculum which outlines a community health volunteer’s qualities and how they are to be elected. The qualified person must be highly respected and must understand and communicate in both English and Swahili.

BERNARD NDALU’s STORY

Bernard Ndalu Ngumbi’s is a resident of Kakuluo village in Mwingi West, a sub county of Kitui County, he has been tasked with the colossal duty of being a CHV. As a former mathematics teacher and policeman, the 62 year old Ngumbi has always been asked to lead his community in one way or the other.

It was quite an intimidating task for Bernard as he was not a doctor or nurses by profession. But he took up this new role with passion and dedication. As a Community Health Volunteer, Bernard is not tasked with the duty to treat patients. What he does is to educate people on health issues and encourage them to visit the clinics.

For too long he watched members of the community, particularly the women and children die of what he believed to be curable diseases.

‘‘With HELP you don’t need to have had a health related background. Look at me! What you need is a sense of responsibility, a willingness to learn and the respect of your community.’’ Bernard says.

I HAVE BECOME MY SISTERS’ KEEPER.”

The importance of what Ngumbi and 317 others like him in the pilot programme are doing cannot be understated. For 17 year old Purity Makaa, receiving health care education at her homestead, instead of the 5 kilometre Kakuluo Dispensary was a blessing.

“Ngumbi came to teach me once a month, but when he realised I was pregnant, his visits increased. He and the other CHVs advised me on the importance of attending clinics while pregnant and also the importance of delivering in the hands of health professional,” Purity relays.

Because of their advice and concern for her, the first-time mother feels that she was in a better position to understand care as relates to her and her then unborn child.

“It doesn’t matter to Purity that I am a man, and that I am not a nurse by training. I even taught her how to hold her baby when she was breast-feeding! The baby has put on double the weight because we have been able to teach her how to handle a baby better. She is also taking better care of herself.

What Purity likes is how much concern, how much training and education the CHVs have been able to give to her.

When bernard first started, I never thought that this programme could have such an impact. We can see that people are really happy with HELP. When Purity says that I have really helped her, I am filled with so much pride and happiness. That is the impact of this programme.”

HOW HELP WORKS

Significantly, HELP is designed to work using the most basic mobile phones. The average CHV across the country uses a basic phone, or a mulika mwizi, as they are commonly referred as. This low end phone is easy to use and has a long battery life as well as a torch.

The information given remains available to the CHV’s all the time. They can take time learning and can also communicate with each other through the group chat.
“And this information is free of charge for us.” Adds Ngumbi

THE FUTURE FOR HELP

The pilot phase has proved to be a success. During this phase, an initial version of the HELP solution was built, tested and piloted with 300 Community Health Extension Workers in 3 locations: Rural (Mwingi), Urban (Kibera) and Nomadic (Samburu) setting, as required by the Kenya Ministry of Health. By the end of Phase 1, the CHVs learning completion rate (mLearning) was 78% that contributed to 80% of their overall performance. Phase II of the project has already commenced and will reach at least 3,000 CHVs.

“With HELP, we want to show in the second phase that we can expand that up from 300 to 3,000. Once we have proven it can go to 3,000, we go up to 30,000 and then to 300,000 and then 3 million,” Les Baillie relays.

For people like Ngumbi, participating in HELP has been a once in a lifetime experience.

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Health Enablement and Learning Platform (HELP)