Partnerships that work: Huduma Poa involves church in reproductive health

Hundreds of patients thronged St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Soy mining village, Kwanza Sub-County, almost overwhelming Huduma Poa social franchise team and providers seconded by the MoH.
The outreach had been organized by one of the Huduma Poa Social Franchise clinic, Seed of Hope in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the most popular church in the area.
 In preparation for the outreach, Bernard Baraza, a community health worker (CHW) attached to the franchise clinic and his counterpart liaised with other community health workers around Soymining village to identify the most suitable site for the reproductive health outreach. They identified St. Mary’s Catholic Church and approached the administration.
The chairperson of the church board welcomed the idea saying the church would support any intervention meant to improve the livelihood of the people in the area.
This is also contrary to the common belief that religion is a barrier to family planning. A 2015 study titled: The Influence of Religion and Ethnicity on Family Planning Approval: A Case for Women in Rural Western Kenya concludes that in as much as religion and ethnicity have been found to be of significance in shaping attitudes towards family planning in other settings, the two variables are of no significance among women in Western Kenya.
The CHVs seized the opportunity, distributed posters, and talked to members of the congregation during the Sunday mass. The Soymining outreach and others that the Huduma Poa franchise has held in collaboration with churches and the Ministry of Health is a demonstration of working public, private, partnership in healthcare.
Beatrice Amayo KMET Quality Assurance officer reinforces contraceptive information after CHWs give a health talk at St. Marys Catholic Church Kitale
Margarate Nyongesa a CHV from Soymining says the church is one of the ideal venues to hold outreaches because religious leaders boost the trust of community members because of endorsement even if they do not personally talk about the services.
“We are close to our local pastors because our obligations to reach the people are similar therefore this makes our mobilization work easier,” adds Baraza.
 Community Health Worker encourages women to touch the IUCD at Nyamaraga SDA church in Migori
On this particular outreach, 41 women received long acting and reversible methods of contraception; 48 were screened for cervical cancer; 75 counseled and tested for HIV.
KMET Huduma Poa Program Officers have since adopted written letter templates customized for church audiences as a mobilization tool for CHWs in addition to posters, and door-to-door mobilization.
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