"I am a connector" - Amos Magero delivers UHC to Busia County, Kenya
To celebrate Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Day, Living Goods talked to Amos Malingo Magero, a 67-year-old Community Health Worker (CHW) from, Busia County, Kenya. Amos has been a CHW for 15 years. The loss of his community and family members during the HIV and AIDS pandemic moved him to serve as a CHW. He joined a HIV family and homebased care program by the Red Cross targeting care, treatment and support for HIV patients and families in Busia County in 2007. This ignited his fire and passion towards community health work. The exposure from the training made him a resourceful community resource lead with organizations, partners and the community reaching out to him for support for other interventions to date. Amos now works in Mundika Community Unit right in the heart of Munongo village. His home resembles a small health center, since community members visit him first before they can seek access to health facilities, he says.
Amos was interviewed by Ruth Chitwa, Living Goods communications manager in Kenya.
Universal Health Coverage means everyone, everywhere has access to affordable and high-quality health services. Why is it important that Kenya works toward this goal?
Right now, many members of our communities cannot afford standard or quality health care. Therefore, the actions by government to allow communities especially low-income earners and those in the rural areas to access health services is laudable. Kenya's UHC vision is inspired by Vision 2030 that wants to provide high quality of life to all citizens. To achieve it will mean that Kenyans of all walks of life - no matter their status or their position - are able to access good, affordable and quality health care.
The theme of UHC Day this year is a health future for all. What do you think a healthy future for all will look like?
In my view, a healthy future for all translates to a very vibrant economy. I visualize a country with a healthy workforce building the nation without falling out due to diseases and other health impediments. I therefore see a very, very active, progressive and healthy nation.
Why do you think your role as a community health worker is important to providing a healthy future for all?
I am a gate keeper and a connector. Through me, I help government and other partners disseminate important health information to the public. Government action and direction reaches the community on the ground easily and quickly. Living closer to the community, I understand them. I have knowledge of their practices, their language and can also help easily identify any disease outbreak and connect the community to health facilities. I can support in providing the necessary information, advice, commodities, and check up on a number of issues like nutrition, family planning, immunization among others. At the same time, being at the center of the community that I serve, I understand the challenges and know their problems well. It is easier for the community to open up to me and I can give direction and also make a connection with my link facility for referrals where needed.
If you could ask the leaders in Kenya for one thing to help with your job, what would you ask for?
I want my leaders in Kenya to give me the necessary tools for me to do my job. Tools in the form of training on the fundamentals of the most common ailments under the integrated community case management system. Also training on what is required in my line of service so that I am well conversant with what I am dealing with. They need to provide basic commodities for first line management of cases. Finally, a little encouragement for us to carry on with this work will not harm. Give us a reasonable stipend that will keep us going as we serve the community. Serving people almost for free is not appropriate. Our work involves a lot of walking, making follow-up calls, making referrals and all this requires money.
Photo credit: Living Goods