Volunteering to reduce materenal deaths in Samburu County
When the clock struck 12:00am on December 31st, 2016, Mary Kisai received a distress call from Anne (not her real name), one of the pregnant mothers she had been following up in her community unit. Anne was going into labour and she needed an ambulance to get her to the nearest health facility.Due to the mobile network challenges that are prevalent in Samburu County, Mary could not get through to an ambulance at this hour. Knowing that Anne was HIV positive, she could not risk having her deliver her baby at home. With only her phone in hand, acting as both her means of communication and light, Mary left for Anne’s homestead.
As a community health volunteer trained by Uzazi Salama, an MPESA funded Maternal and New-born Health (MNH) project that works closely with community health volunteers to improve access to better MNH services in Samburu, Mary is well trained to handle such cases. She volunteered to serve her community because in as much as she appreciated her culture, she also saw the need for formal health sector services. “I have witnessed mothers and children in Engutoto village, here in Samburu, lose their lives or develop disabilities because they have no access to skilled health care. Our culture upholds demeaning cultural practices such FGM and appreciates very little of modern health facility delivery services”, Mary explains.Upon arrival at Anne’s home, she found her in the company of her husband and sister-in-law. Together, they joined efforts in supporting Anne to walk to Suguta Mar Mar health facility. 7 hours later, she delivered a baby boy weighing 3.2 kilogrammes. It was her first time to deliver a baby who was not underweight. Appropriate nutritional practices were also recommended by the doctor. All this Mary attributed to the efforts she had put in to make sure Anne had gone for at least 3 ANC visits before her due date. It is in one of these visits that she found out she was HIV positive.
“Up to date, I make sure she goes for the required visits at the health facility. The baby is healthy and HIV negative. I am hoping that Anne follows the doctor’s instructions to the latter. This will give me the confidence that I have made a positive impact on someone’s life as a CHV”, adds a hopeful Mary.