Because staying healthy is about more than not getting sick.
A health facility with high-quality medical care is important, but a clinic alone isn’t enough to tackle the complex health challenges that families living in poverty face. Long held cultural beliefs, stigma, misinformation, and gender bias affect the use and effectiveness of health services. These can only be addressed by working within the community to combat incorrect assumptions about health and to promote healthy behavior. Community Wellness provides information and screening services for a variety of health issues, including nutrition, sexual and reproductive health (which includes family planning, post-abortion care, ante and postnatal care, and HIV testing and counseling), cervical cancer screening, and water and sanitation education.
42+F works with 131 Community Health Workers (CHWs) to educate families about these services in their homes. They are selected by their peers in the community and trained to offer basic health education and assessments, extending healthful living deeper into the informal settlement community. This initiative follows up with patients from the community health centres, teaches health education, refers families for treatment, testing, and counseling services, and provides families with answers to medical issues.
The nutrition center serves children under the age of five who have been identified by CHWs as severely malnourished. Unlike other nutrition programs that only focus on feeding children, the center also teaches kids educational and social skills while providing three nutritious meals per day. As part of the program, parents are taught how to prepare nutritious meals for their families without any increase to their daily income. Additionally, parents are trained on best practices in hygiene and sanitation to help keep their families healthy.
Cervical Cancer Screening
Cervical cancer is extremely misunderstood in informal settlements. In a survey 42PF conducted to find out where the community’s thoughts were on this topic, many women said that they weren’t aware how the disease developed or that it was preventable. Other community members applied the myth they assume about all cancers: that these diseases only affect the rich because of their diet. Finally, there were some that felt the disease was a curse put on commercial sex workers. Because these myths are so widespread, 42PF has been working to change perceptions of the disease and provide life-saving information about prevention and treatment.
In this resource-limited setting, healthcare funding and infrastructure are typically inadequate for primary care and prevention programs like cervical cancer screenings. As a result, women are significantly more vulnerable. The 42PF Cervical Cancer Screening Program supports women and healthcare providers to help ensure that as many women as possible benefit from these new life-saving services. It also works to dispel the previously-held, discouraging idea that such services are only available in big hospitals and come at a great cost. To date we have facilitated 445 women to access cancer screening services in well equipped health facilities.
Sexual Reproductive Health
Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) program is more than an educational outreach project designed to promote positive behavior and increase knowledge of HIV/AIDS and reproductive health. It is also a chance for passionate youth from informal settlements to become Peer Youth Providers (YPPs), to serve as leaders within their communities, and to facilitate behavioral changes among their peers. To date we have facilitated HIV screening for 3,861 in community health centres by building their technical and practical skills to increase efficiency in service delivery and accuracy in results obtained.
Maternal & Child Health
In Informal settlements, the cost of health misinformation is life-threatening. While health facilities exist, a significant gap between the community and use of those facilities persists. Women of child-bearing age and children under 5 are often at higher risk for medical complications, making the need to close this gap more urgent. To address this, 42PF uses Community Health Workers (CHW) to provide health education and bridge the gap between health facilities and the community.
The Community-Based, Impact-Oriented (CBIO) approach, which registers basic health data from and for the community, offers a framework for health needs assessment and response that is led by community members and supported by 42PF. The success of this methodology is built on a “train-the-trainer” model which empowers and trains community members to become both healthcare educators and mobilizers. To date we have facilitated maternal and child health services through community health centres to 26,763 women and children.
Water & Sanitation Hygiene
Diarrhea is the second leading cause of death in children under 5 years in sub-Saharan Africa. Chronic diarrhea can also hinder child development by impeding the uptake of essential nutrients that are critical to the development of children’s minds, bodies, and immune systems. Poor sanitation contributes to high levels of acute respiratory infections (ARIs) and diarrhea, which is the leading cause of death among children under the age of five years every year. Diarrhea is responsible for about nine per cent of infant deaths and ten per cent of deaths of one to five-year-old children. Water borne illnesses still highly affect people living in Nairobi’s informal settlement. A host of factors affect water quality: unsafe water supply, unhygienic sanitation facilities, poor solid waste management, unhygienic practices particularly with regard to hand washing, insecure land tenure, poor socio-economic status, and crowded living condition.