Serving Marsabit: 27,000 Square Miles of Outreach

We love our updates from our UNC Intern, Grace, from the Tumaini Medical Center in Kenya. Here she introduces you to our Community Health Workers, who are very important to creating lasting change when it comes to fighting the HIV/AIDS crisis.

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During my time so far in Kenya, I have been privileged to meet a few of the community health workers (CHWs) at Tumaini as they came in for their monthly reporting and to pick up supplies (e.g., condoms). The collaboration of their work with the clinic staff cannot be understated.

A CHW is a community member trained in HIV/AIDS knowledge, able to help educate fellow community members.

Subsequent to the new constitution in Kenya, the country was divided into counties. To date, there are 47 counties in Kenya, of which Marsabit county is the largest at about 27,000 square miles (that’s approximately half the size of my current home state, North Carolina).

The population in Marsabit is approximately 291,166; however, with such vast terrain, reaching some of the population often involves many hours of travel. So how does Tumaini work to reach those that are not in close proximity to the clinic?

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Sometimes community outreaches are coordinated where clinic staff go to the outskirts of the county with their travel testing kits to test and treat those who are unable to come to the clinic. But when outreaches are not financially feasible, CHWs reach out to communities.

The clinic has 20 CHWs working alongside the staff to increase knowledge on HIV/AIDS in Marsabit, and to maintain communication with patients for treatment adherence. Some traveled over 200 km to come in for their reporting. Their dedication, partnership with Tumaini, and enthusiastic energy for the work they carry out is remarkable and worthy of many “thank you’s.”