Kenya has only confirmed a handful of cases of COVID-19, however the country is clearly taking the threat of it’s spread seriously, and it needs to. Like other poor nations around the world with ill equipped health systems, Kenya is extremely vulnerable to the menace of COVID-19. President Kenyatta has closed schools and churches, and barred entry to the country from anyone travelling from a country with a confirmed COVID-19 case. There is a distinct sense of anxiety throughout Kenya, with many people staying at home to avoid contact (BBC 16-3-20).
Time and time again, our Community Health Workers (CHWs) shine through in tough times. Already at the front line in the fight against HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases, our CHWs are standing strong and helping their communities to protect themselves against COVID-19. The Kenyan Ministry of Health is actually partnering with our project in order to share information at the grass roots level, through our CHWs.
And our usual work continues – albeit impacted, and creatively transformed in some cases. In response to social distancing recommendations from the Kenyan government, CHWs are no longer able to meet with whole families of HIV clients – instead they’re working one on one with the sick, whilst trying to share information with their family members in different rooms and tackle the stigma that grows when the sick are more isolated. Our Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) program has been quite affected as these activities are based around large group meetings. In response, our workers have been able to arrange some smaller gatherings to reach pregnant women and new mothers, and are still able to visit them at home in times of need. Microscope outreaches that teach people about water and sanitation and disease prevention have also become smaller in size, and many are being conducted under the shade of trees to avoid confined indoor areas. These sessions are particularly important amid COVID-19, as they empower people with awareness about hand washing and other hygiene practices.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank our Positive Aid supporters – it is a really hard time for us all in Australia and throughout the world. The outbreak of COVID-19 has given us a unique insight into how people must work together globally to eradicate disease. As we try to protect ourselves and our families from the risks of COVID-19, we would like to sincerely thank you for continuing to support the health of communities in Kenya.