Getting anywhere fast in Bosoti, Kenya is hard, particularly during the rainy season.
Flooding and a deluge of mud makes the onerous trek to the local health clinic even more perilous and time-consuming than usual. But things got a lot easier for the residents of Bosoti when Nivah Owyando became a community health worker (CHW) for the Kenyan government, supported and trained by Living Goods.
Recruited directly from her community to provide care to her neighbours, Nivah was trained over the course of a several weeks and equipped with life-saving medications and tools like a smartphone that enable her to educate, assess, diagnose, treat and refer patients dealing with some of the most preventable and treatable illnesses, but which take the greatest toll on maternal and child mortality.
To ensure that her knowledge remains fresh, Nivah and thousands of CHWs like her receive ongoing mentorship, supervision and coaching to ensure they’re providing a consistently high level of quality healthcare in their communities, all aided by data-driven performance management. Now, they’ll be able to add immunisation counseling, referral, and tracking to the basket of services they offer in their communities.
Last Mile Health and Living Goods already support more than 8,500 CHWs across Liberia, Uganda, and Kenya. The two organisations partnered up as part of The Audacious Project, a new initiative at TED that aims to inspire change at scale, and set the ambitious goal of providing healthcare to 34 million people by deploying 50,000 digitally-empowered CHWs across six countries by 2021. Launched at TED2018, and made possible by funders including Virgin Unite, the ELMA Foundation, the Skoll Foundation, and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, this Audacious Project was forged by a shared vision of a world where strong health systems provide high-quality care to everyone, everywhere. Both organisations have worked in partnership with governments for more than a decade to design, refine, and scale integrated community health worker programs that expand access to universal health coverage as part of the larger public health system.
gress in advancing access to primary care, but there remain opportunities to multiply their impact. Through an exciting partnership with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, CHWs will be part of an innovative solution that leverages technology to expand vaccination coverage to the hardest-to-reach communities, while benefitting the entire health system.
Despite incredible progress worldwide, 16 million children lack access to routine immunisation – and experts have noted that this number has begun to rise. Notably, the challenge of achieving equal gains in the hardest-to-reach or most resistant communities remains acute.
Gavi has teamed up with Living Goods and Last Mile Health’s Audacious Project to achieve equity in immunisation coverage, which will not only protect against epidemics and outbreaks, but ultimately enable substantial savings through increased productivity, and lower healthcare costs. Gavi estimates the return on investment of longer, healthier lives through vaccinations saves $48 for every dollar invested.
In partnership with Ministries of Health, Last Mile Health and Living Goods will integrate immunisation-related health promotion and data collection efforts into existing national CHW programs in order to increase demand for vaccines, while addressing barriers at the community-level that serve to impede coverage. The addition of this intervention will have reverberating impacts, with immunisation directly impacting 14 of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, including education and nutrition, poverty, and gender equity.
Nivah has already been serving in Bosoti for the past two years, and her neighbours rely on her expertise. With immunisation coverage across Kenya hovering in the 80 per cent range, Niva now has the power to proactively support her neighbors in ensuring every child is vaccinated against otherwise deadly diseases as she goes about her daily interactions with her community.
Since immunisation is the only intervention that brings the vast majority of families into contact with the health system five or more times during the first year of life, it will also create a solid platform for families to receive better health coverage throughout their lives. Meanwhile, the vital information Nivah will capture about vaccination coverage on her smartphone will help inform the direction of the national program in Kenya, as thousands of other CHWs will do across Liberia and Uganda – all thanks to the power of partnership.
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