A long queue of patients, many of whom are mothers with young children and women of reproductive age, wait eagerly at Mawere Dispensary.
At the registration desk sits Leah Atieno Midega, a 42 year old mother of six and a passionate Community Health Worker trained by Amref Health Africa. Leah has served her community for 11 years. Today, she is on duty; therefore, her role is to attend to all the patients on basic health needs like measuring their weight and temperature, as well as testing for malaria using Rapid Diagnostic Test kit before the patients proceed for further evaluation.
Leah is keen on public awareness and asserts that the public awareness trainings she has received from the Global Fund Malaria project have given her confidence to carry out her work. She is currently in charge of Haila village, which has 127 households.
She says: “With this training, I can now perform a range of health activities including treatment and referral for malaria as well as other diseases, provide health education on malaria prevention and also behaviour change communication. I also mobilise communities for vaccinations and other community health activities. I'm grateful to Amref Health Africa in Kenya through the Global Fund Malaria project for providing me with the training and skills needed to save the lives of the more vulnerable people.”
As a Community Health Worker, Leah is responsible for implementing Community Case Management (CCM), whose main objective is to classify illnesses, treat them, and provide counselling in the community on the use of medicine and food that should be given to those that are sick.
“One of the things that make me proud is having saved the life of a four month old baby who I referred to the health centre. The doctors told me that he would have died if not identified and referred to the health facility.”
Despite having such a great impact in her community, Leah has had challenges, especially when training and educating her community on the importance of using insecticide treated mosquito nets.
“In the beginning, some people refused to use mosquito nets and a majority used them improperly. Some of my neighbours told me that they didn’t see any mosquitoes in their rooms, so there was no need to use the mosquito nets. But with frequent visits to their homesteads, I was able to convince them.’’