Over 200 frontline health workers, community volunteers and local leaders have been given basic training on COVID-19 prevention in Nakuru County in a series of one-day sensitizations meetings held in 5 sub-counties.USAID’s Afya Uzazi program partners with the county department of health to organize the meetings to equip participants with skills to create awareness about COVID-19 and promote preventive measures such as handwashing, wearing of masks and social distancing. Participants were also sensitized on addressing the social impacts of COVID-19.
Those trained include 17 public health officers and 188 community health volunteers/natural leaders (volunteers who promote latrine use, safe water use, hygiene, and improved sanitation).The training focused on COVID-19 prevention and improved sanitation (including WASH disability/equality inclusion).Speaking during one of the meetings held at Kampi Moto in Rongai sub-county, the Deputy County WASH Coordinator Mary Mucheru urged the PHOs and volunteers to be role models and educate the communities on COVID-19 prevention and to assist in reporting suspected cases and contact tracing.The official explained the pandemic had affected every aspect of society and resulted to unemployment and changes in people lives. She noted the reported rise in teenage pregnancy due to idleness among the young people and urged community leaders to helps address the problem.
Ms. Mucheru highlighted that despite the negative impact of COVID-19, adoption of hygiene practices has improved, particularly handwashing, which has become a new norm.‘’We need WASH to fight COVID-19,” said, Vincent, a volunteer public health officer attached to Rongai sub-county through Afya Uzazi support.The Afya Uzazi officer in charge of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), Benjamin Masila, made a presentation on some of the improved sanitation methods and outlined strategies to for inclusive sanitation that meets the needs of people living with disability, the elderly, the sick and young children.
He singled out the tippy-tap, a simple foot-operated handwashing device, as a no-contact affordable solution for households without running water, made with locally available materials. Afya Uzazi works with the DoH in Nakuru county to popularize Small Doable Actions for WASH.Besides preventing the spread of COVID-19, improved sanitation reduces the risk of diseases such as diarrhea and intestinal worms. It promotes dignity, overall health and reduces chances of children missing school.
Participants expressed their appreciation for the training. A local artisan, Geoffrey Nduati, said he never considered the needs of the disabled, the elderly and the sick in latrine design. He committed to start making commodes and popularizing them especially among families with the disabled. Others said they would educate the community on improved sanitation, encourage schools to incorporate menstrual hygiene responsive structures when constructing sanitation facilities, and help families build tippy taps. They would also mobilize communities to prevent contamination of water sources that happens when they wash clothes in the rivers.
With support from USAID, Afya Uzazi is working with Nakuru County to improve preparedness and response to COVID-19 at the sub-county and community levels. Other activities undertaken include public communication campaigns and support for health facilities to prevent and control infections.
How Immunization Services Quickly Resumed Following a Hospital Fire in Malawi