Urban Community Health Workers

Residents of Manyatta, an informal settlement in Kisumu, Kenya, benefited from our ongoing Urban CHW pilot training program, led by the Municipal Council of Kisumu’s Health Department, in collaboration with The Netherland’s Cordaid Urban Matters program and MCI. CHWs in Manyatta were trained using the Ministry of Health’s Community Strategy Manual, building their capacity to lead their communities in disease prevention, health promotion and basic curative care. CHWs were taught to collect and analyze data at the household level, prevent and monitor for disease, recognize danger signs, perform essential life-saving techniques, refer patients for further care and advocate on their behalf.

Manyatta’s CHWs, responsible for registering and monitoring approximately 20 households, were overseen by a task force and required to attend monthly meetings led by the Municipal Council of Kisumu’s Community Health Extension Workers. These meetings provided an opportunity to review household data and discuss how they might address concerns at the community level, which set a standard for what the Ministry of Health considered to be basic, “level 1” care. As volunteers, the Manyatta CHWs did not receive a stipend but were rewarded for their performance. Additional training for the Manyatta cohort took place in January 2013.

We are hopeful that this project will be replicated and scaled, revealing improved public health outcomes and ultimately demonstrating the effectiveness of placing trained Community Health Workers also in underresourced urban communities. We are confident that the Manyatta CHW training program improved not only health care access, but also the likelihood of timely, life-saving interventions in the cases of illness and/or emergencies likely to arise within the community.