Hand in hand with our partner Kiwoko Hospital, Adara launched a new community outreach initiative in 2014 to bring the hospital’s maternal infant child health expertise to the community in an attempt to reduce infant and maternal death.
44 Village Health Trainers (VHTs) were selected from the community and trained to help educate their communities. VHTs work with families to teach the importance of seeking and attending antenatal care, pregnancy related health education, the importance of seeking a skilled attendant at birth, encourage safe facility delivery, recognition of early dangers signs in pregnancy and what to do. The VHTs are volunteers and are the community’s initial healthcare contact.
The VHTs will receive quarterly training, and just completed their second lot of training a few weeks ago.
We interviewed one of the new VHTs, Prossy, about her experience as a VHT. Prossy is 32 years old and is married with three children. She lives in Lumpewe village.
1. Hi Prossy! Can I ask what made you want to be a VHT for Kiwoko Hospital?
I am a resident of this community and had heard about Kiwoko Hospital activities and benefited from some of them, including antenatal care and immunisation for my children. I had also participated in the CBHC home sanitation competition. Sadly, I had no chance of getting the knowledge about issues such as neonatal care and danger signs in pregnancy. When I heard about the VHT training, I volunteered to participate in the workshop in order to get more knowledge to be able to confidently share it with others.
2. What was the most important thing that you learnt at VHT training?
I learnt about the dangers of delivering a baby in a place where there is no trained people and instruments which can be used in case the baby fails to come out normally.
I also got knowledge about the normal and danger signs of pregnancy.
3. Were you surprised by any of the things you learnt?
Yes, I was surprised when I learnt that a baby of 27 weeks can be attended to and survive if put in neonatal intensive care. Also, the number of neonates in the NICU surprised me, as I had not expected so many babies (over 20!) to be in NICU. I realised that all the babies I saw would be dead if skilled people and machines were not available. Learning about Kangaroo Mother Care was new to me, yet very applicable.
4. Can you tell us how you share your new health knowledge with the community?
After the training, I discussed the content with my husband, neighbours and friends.
5. What is the biggest challenge facing your community?
The community doesn’t believe that antenatal care is necessary when a mother doesn’t have any pain or illness.
6. What is the biggest joy in being a VHT?
As a trained VHT, I have the desire and knowledge to change the lives of mothers and babies.
7. What impact do you think VHTs will have for the community?
If more VHTs are trained, more mothers will be reached and be referred to the hospital for antenatal care. I hope the VHTs will participate in more training to learn other things so that we can be of greater value to the community.