The work of community health ambassadors has become easier and more exciting since they can now generate computerized reports from the information gathered in their community. This became possible following the establishment and equipping with ICTs of the Gem Rae Community resource center in North Nyakach location, Kisumu. The resource centre was established through a partnership between AfriAfya and the Great Lakes University (formerly the Tropical Institute of Community Health) through the community based health information systems (CBHMIS) project.
One of the areas where the equipment has come in handy is in analyzing results of studies. One such study was a baseline survey that was conducted in the two sub locations of Gem Rae and Gem Nam in November 2005. The data collected included immunization coverage, antenatal care visits, food security, availability of birth certificates, facilities for deliveries and so on. Normally, the results of such a survey would have been analyzed manually, but this time, computers were on hand for that. The results of the study indicated that most expectant mothers opted to give birth at home instead of delivering at a health facility for delivery.
This was identified as a major concern in the whole location and in November last year a community dialogue meeting was held at the community chief’s camp to discuss this matter. In attendance were community members, health representatives from the Ministry of health and other stakeholders. There was a lively discussion which brought forth many ideas and also many concerns especially from mothers.
One mother said: “It is difficult to negotiate the fee which is too much for most of us with the hospital health workers. They are very unfriendly and end up hurling insults at you instead of listening to you”. This is when she was asked why she preferred home delivery instead of facility delivery. Others pointed out that after giving birth to the first born, the delivery of the other children was easier and they therefore saw no need of going to hospital.
The health care representatives present in the meeting said that although most community members were aware of the advantages of delivering in hospital, most were still reluctant due to more or less the same reasons that mothers had expressed.
Following the meeting, the community health ambassadors have been counseling expectant mothers in the location on the benefits of delivering their babies in a health facility. The mothers are contacted regularly to encourage compliance. The last follow up was done in the month of April 2007 and they report that response from the mothers has improved. They usually hold these community dialogue meetings ever quarter to disseminate findings of the data they collect. Recently AfriAfya took their work to a higher level by donating some PDAs that they can use to collect and analyse data right in the village instead of using too much paper.