Somalia

Getting health services to hard to reach areas through community health workers

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Abdikarim Ali, BRCiS NRC Communication and advocacy coordinator

Accessing health services in rural villages in Xudur district, Bakool region remained very precarious for a long time since Somalia’s health infrastructure got weakened as result of long unstable central governance system that ruled the country for almost three decades. Malaria, Pneumonia and Diarrhoea are the leading causes of preventable deaths for under-five children living in these low-income areas in Somalia.

Action Against Hunger with funds from UKAID through BRCiS consortium started integrated community case management (iCCM) program implementation in Tubooy Village, eight kilometers from Xudur district with the aim of reducing morbidity and mortality associated with malaria, pneumonia and diarrheal diseases for children below five years of age.

Makaay Mohamed Keyr aged 30 years and a mother of five children (three boys and 2 girls) who lives in Tubooy villages has to travel to Xudur to seek health services every now and then whenever they faced with illness despite the hurdles they face. On a similar situation, her fellow female villages sometimes leave their children at the hut and walk under the blazing sun and through the deadline forests to reach Xudur for health purposes.

Towards the end of September, Makaay’s youngest son developed very high fever and constant diarrhoea. Makaay thought her son would get better after some rest, however the situation worsened as the time progressed. Luckily Action Against Hunger (ACF) has been having community health workers (CHW) based in their village who conduct routine active case finding and screening. Through one of the village health worker, Makaay’s son was screened and diagnosed with diarrhoea. He was given oral rehydration salt (ORS) and after a few hours, his health started to improve and was sent home to recover. Since then, the community health worker attached to Makaay’s son followed up on his recovery process until he got well. The follow up activity is always part of routine tasks for the CHWs to monitor the progress and in case there are any relapse then they are able to refer accordingly.

Additionally, Makaay has two children living with albinism. According to her, the children’s condition has been stigmatized and at times community members call them strange names alluding to albinism. Makaay is grateful for the support she received from CHWs who provide door-to-door routine check-ups through integrated community case management

“Lastly, my heartfelt thanks go to the on board community health service providers who regularly do door to door visits serving the village children especially when they fall ill by giving them medication. Furthermore, they regularly do referrals especially when the situation is beyond their capacities”, concluded by Makaay.

BRCiS (Building Resilience in Somalia) is a humanitarian consortium of 9 international and local NGOs funded by UK government and led by NRC working on resilience building in Somalia. BRCiS phase II is health and nutrition sensitive as learning from the first phase that nutrition and health activities are essential for resilience building. Since then, 514 (217 boys, 297 girls) children benefited from BRCiS’s Integrated Community Case Management (iCCM) programme implemented by ACF (Action Against Hunger) in Xudur district.