Hail to the childcare champions!

Abigael Limo displays a certificate awarded to her partner Titus for performing essential childcare behaviors

The Champion Community Model breaks down complex behaviours into small doable actions that parents can easily undertake for their health and that of their children. Communities set their own targets for families practising the behaviours and celebrate their achievements.

Abigael Limo, 22, is recognized as a community champion for child health. She was among 38 mothers and their partners who received certificates for adopting healthy childcare practices during a graduation ceremony held at Salawa village in Baringo County.

The ceremony was organized to publicly recognize parents who successfully adopted accelerator behaviors for the health of mothers and children under the Champion Community Model (CCM), a social and behavior change intervention implemented by Afya Uzazi Program.

The CCM approach is aligned with the critical first 1,000 days of a baby’s life. The intervention targets pregnant mothers, mothers with babies under one year and their male partners. Trained community health volunteers (CHVs) visit households to educate women and their families and motivate them to perform small doable actions that lead to the adoption of healthy practices.

Parents are encouraged to adopt three sets of seven essential behaviors listed in checklists for pregnant women, mothers and caretakers of young children and their male partners.

Ali Rashid and his wife display their certificate accompanied by the community health volunteer who helped them get the award.

The behaviors include attending antenatal clinic at least four times, delivering at a health facility with the help of a skilled attendant, exclusive breastfeeding for six months, appropriate complementary feeding, and good household sanitation and hygiene.

The order of the essential behaviors on the scorecard is as sequential. It follows the progressive needs during pregnancy or an infant’s first year and shows what parents should do.

“Because I followed the CCM checklist and my second child did not fall sick unlike the firstborn,” says Abigael. “I did know that it was important to visit the clinic when pregnant and after delivery, neither did I know that children should be immunized.”

In the CCM, the community sets its own targets and then organizes a graduation ceremony once the agreed number of families are documented to have taken the essential actions.

Over, 8,000 families had benefitted from the intervention by the end of the project.

To sustain the gains, public health officers from Nakuru and Baringo were trained and mentored to continue the intervention as a key part of the strategy for primary health care.