COMMUNITY HEALTH AFRICA TRUST

To mitigate suffering and poverty through integrated mobile health services providing education and provision of reproductive health, immunization, basic curative and education on the dangers of female genital mutilation
Oct 12, 2011

The Camel's Return from yet Another Trek...

The exhausted camel mobile clinic caravan had travelled for over 16 km since departing from Kirimon in Laikipia County and had served over 200 people with integrated health services that included Family Planning and HIV/AIDS services.

 Led by a hired Government nurse, a Family Planning community worker, an HIV counselor and three camel handlers, the caravan had now slowed down to a stroll, and was approaching Lpussi village deep inside Samburu County.  Luckily, a Chief’s baraza (a chief’s public meeting) was underway in the remote village.

In this particular baraza Susan Lenatari, the Family Planning Community Based Distributor (FPCBD) with Community Health Africa Trust accompanying the clinic stood and engaged over 50 men and 102 women on family planning--an issue the Samburu community is ‘uncomfortable about’ due to the myths propagated by the ‘old folk’ in their community.

"Family planning is only for women. And it makes them promiscuous. I would never advise my wife to use those things [contraceptives] because the role of a woman is to give birth to children," said Lemayan Nanpook, a 28-year-old father of six when he rose to speak.

His counterpart, Mengich Lemayan, who holds that family planning is dangerous, added, "I hear that it makes women give birth to children without ears and eyes. I think couples should space their children through natural means only. They were doing it before the introduction of this family planning thing anyway."

In this part of the world (Northern Kenya), it is men who usually decide on the number and variety of sexual relationships, timing and frequency of sexual activity and use of contraceptives, sometimes through coercion or violence.

"I started by taking pills discreetly because I didn’t want more children given that I have four already. When my husband discovered that I had chosen a 3 year Implanon, he went mad."

In Samburu, the overriding factors against family planning are widespread myths and misconceptions about family planning for women and men. Our FPCBDs understand since they are from the same community but they are well trained to dispel such rumors in order to increase uptake of family planning.

Susan spoke honestly and informatively to the crowd, a simple tactic that debunked the many myths associated with Family Planning. Later in that day, more than 70 women chose Implanon, an insertion method which offers five-years of contraception, as their form of family planning. Implanon is considered a wise choice since reproductive health services are rare amongst the pastoralist communities and many women have already had 8 children.

And as nomadic communities of the north struggle with effects of climate change and runaway population explosion, CHAT continues to give hope through strategic technology choices (family planning) as a means to mitigate poverty and suffering.

Jul 25, 2011

Family Planning: A Means to A Better Quality of Li

recipient of long-term contraception
recipient of long-term contraception

Jambo, to all of our generous donors:

I want to begin with an excerpt from the United Nations Population Fund’s web page.

It [family planning] is one of the wisest and most cost effective investments any country can make towards a better quality of life. Limited access to contraception, on the other hand, constrains women's opportunities to pull themselves and their families out of poverty.

            http://www.unfpa.org/swp/2005/english/ch4/chap4_page2.htm

When you read statements like this, you can see how investing in family planning is like investing in preventative medicine: it pays off in the long run. Having the choice to decided how many children one wants to have and at what time, is not only a basic human right, but a means to a more healthy, quality, life. Your continual support of our efforts to provide reliable and affordable family planning options, helps us to ensure this right is able to be practiced by the remote communities of Northern Kenya.

 

In our most recent family planning trip to Northern and Eastern Samburu a total of 309 clients were reached with long-term FP methods. Of those clients, it was observed that women were escorting their daughters to the clinic to receive long-term methods and men were seen accompanying their wives. The presence of men in the company of their wives, gives us great hope, as they are often the ones most resistant to our services.

 

10 years of commitment to these communities has created a relationship of trust. Through education and consistency, we find ourselves in front of more open-minded audiences, willing to trust in the beneficial options available to them- options allowing women to be in control of their health and bodies. As the trust grows, so does the demand, which is why partnerships are such an important part of CHAT. Many hands do make light work. The Ministry of Health and the British NGO, Marie Stopes have been invaluable contributors to the work we do, the MOH recently having placed family planning as one of its top priorities.

 

So, know that we are busy at work. And we thank you, always, for your interest and generosity.

 

We will be back with more updates in a couple of months.

 

Asante Sana.

 

The team at CHAT

Jul 18, 2011

Case Stories from the field...

COMMUNITY HEALTH AFRICA TRUST

CASE STORY  By Patrick Kimanzi

 Longewan, Samburu County-KENYA.

 As she walked out of the enclosure that serves as the camel mobile clinic ‘theater’ room, Martha Nyaano 27, a mother of six felt the gaze of the crowd upon her. Just outside, a group of women had gathered from surrounding villages, all with one thing in common: The desire to limit the size of their families. Later they would be treated for various ailments but family planning first: they all seemed to agree.

Eagerly, they had waited while Martha became the first of the group to undergo her contraceptive method of choice. Now, striding toward the crowd without a hitch, she paused and addressed her folk, doing her best to erase their lingering fears and doubts--if any;

“Friends, this operation is nothing. I couldn’t feel anything. You people don’t lose heart.”

This was one of the many scenes witnessed during CHAT’s camel mobile clinic that spend a total of 30 days criss-crossing the vast Laikipia and Samburu regions of Northern Kenya.

That particular day a total of 31 received Implanon. And although this number represents a small fraction of the long-term family planning clients reached by CHAT, it is elating to realize that Samburu women show an exceptional level of independence and strength in a culture where women traditionally face extreme social and economic inequality.

 

CHAT integrated camel mobile clinic also offers immunizations, HIV counseling and testing and provision of basic curatives.

 Ends

 (Patrick Kimanzi is CHAT’s Monitoring and Evaluation Officer)

 

_______________________________________________________________________

Community Health Africa Trust (CHAT) carried out yet another successful integrated camel mobile clinic in March 2010.

CHAT camel mobiles, which go out for a month at a time, are reaching the underserved remote communities providing them with crucial integrated health services including family planning and basic curatives.

THE CAMEL MOBILE CLINIC RESULTS FOR THE MONTH OF MAY 2011

This camel trek reached over 2862 people in 14 stations across Laikipia and Samburu counties.

Family Planning:

  • 1500 condoms distributed
  • 101 women received a 3 month Depovera injection
  • 217 women received long-term (5 year) contraceptive implant - Jardel.

Basic Curatives: (TB, STI, Malaria, Pneumonia, Gastroenteritis, Conjunctivitis, etc)

  • 1004 cases treated

 HIV/AIDS counseling and testing:

  • 1980 participants
  • 670 individuals tested and were given their results.

 CHALLENGES

  • Flooded rivers in the areas of operation make movement and accessibility an enormous challenge in reaching the remote and mostly nomadic people of Laikipia and Samburu.
  • Widespread insecurity and tensions ahead of 2012 general elections can impact negatively on the mobile clinics since it passes through most of the tribal areas that were at it (tribal clashes) during the 2008 disputed polls.

 

LESSONS LEARNED

  • The grueling camel mobile clinic demands dedication, stamina, will and zeal to walk in unfamiliar terrains, route changes and the ever present threat from wild animals, including elephants and lions.
  • It has been realized that integrated camel mobile clinics are the most practical way to provide   healthcare services to the remote areas of Laikipi and Samburu.
  • Close collaboration with the Ministry of Health (MOH), in which the MOH helps to monitor and supervise CHAT program activities, has been hugely beneficial. It has strengthened program implementation and performance, and has kept CHAT current on government policies and on effective data collecting tools.
  • Strong collaboration with district government stake-holders, including the DDO and DSDO, has supplied CHAT with material support as well as substantial assistance in networking and capacity building.
  • The increased community contribution in support group participation and mobilization over the years has improved the security of the clinic in outreach areas. For example, communities have begun to offer secure accommodation sites during times of tribal insecurity for the mobile clinic staff.
  • Networking with government departments as well as other NGOs and healthcare providers has assisted CHAT in the fulfillment of their sustainability plans. It has been of particular help with capacity building in the remote PLWHA support groups. 

 

The integrated camel mobile clinic team negotiates a swelling luger in Samburu County during the March camel mobile clinic. PHOTO: Andy and Sam (Filming Volunteer.

 

 An exhausted integrated camel mobile clinic slows down to a trot (never mind the fast approaching sunset) during the camel clinic trek across Laikipia and Samburu. ALL PHOTOS: Andy and Sam (Film Volunteers)


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