On a typical day, Gabriel Echakan would wake up and make a round visit to households with young infants under the age of five years close to his home. Today it is a little different, he has a bicycle and a back bag containing a book register with a list of pregnant mothers, lactating mothers, and children under the age of five. He also carries teaching cards that he will later use. Unlike in the past, Mr Echakan plans to visit more households because he now has the means.
After a ten-minute ride to a homestead at the far end of his village, Echakan arrives at home with two women. One has a two-year baby while the other is expecting a baby in a few month’s time. Echakan tells us the two are on his register and frequently visits the homestead.
They sit under a tree and Echakan administers a MUAC (Mid Upper-Arm Circumference) test on the child and records the readings on the tape. He then pulls out his learning cards and starts teaching the two women who keenly follow.
His teaching cards have illustrations on breastfeeding techniques, feeding programs, and nutritional needs of pregnant women. The session lasts 30 minutes and Echakan is ready to move to the next village about 20 minutes away.
“I am a regular visitor here, they all know me. My work as a Community Health Volunteer involves visiting homes, taking records, and conducting teachings. Thanks to the bicycles given by PanAfricare IMPACT Program, I can conduct more visits. The records are very important because out of it we can monitor the child’s growth and in case of severe malnutrition cases we can easily refer the child for specialized treatment.”
In hardship and expanse areas such as Turkana County, healthcare facilities are few and far between. This makes it hard for everyone to access quality healthcare in a timely manner. Healthcare volunteers play very crucial roles in bridging the gap. They are immediate responders to emergencies and conveyers of important health information.
Through the IMPACT Program, PanAfricare actively engages healthcare volunteers. Periodical training builds their capacity to dispense the right information. The IMPACT Program is funded by Bayer Fund.