It is expected that all children below 9 years of age should undergo a series of immunizations against common but preventable diseases like Polio, Tuberculosis, Tetanus, Measles and whooping cough. These maladies can cause death or life-long disability among children, but it does not seem so for Linet Ngacho who has never immunized all the four of her children since birth.
The twenty six year old mother is a subsistence farmer in Misri Village, Chwele Sub County in Bungoma County, which has the largest number of deprived children according to a 2013 UNICEF report.
“None of my children were delivered in hospital and I have never attended any child clinic,” she confessed. Oddly, Linet lives less than two kilometers from Chwele Sub County Hospital, a government facility.
Her first-born is six years old, followed by a four-year-old second born, a three year old third born and a last born of two years.
Change came for Linet at a Huduma Poa outreach site, six kilometers from her home. She got word from a community health volunteer that health practitioners from Bewa Medical Clinic would be offering reproductive and child health services so she brought her children who had developed persistent ringworm with the last-born running a fever.
Beatrice Wafula, a nurse trained on the IMCI protocol who attended to Linet’s children reported that her case was one of ignorance and lack of awareness after immunizing the children who were still eligible.
“It is of great concern that there are mothers who still do not know the benefit of hospital delivery and child health clinics, this is why it is important to have a strong community strategy,” she said.
In addition, Linet adopted an IUCD after receiving family planning counseling saying: “I rarely have time to do other activities, I’ve always been taking care of my babies and I hope this coil will give me some break.”
Studies disclose that many sick children never receive proper assessment and treatment by healthcare providers, and that their parents are poorly advised. For this reason, Huduma Poa Health Network trains member clinics on the integrated management of childhood illness protocol to Improve case management skills of health-care staff and involve the community health volunteers to reach out to people like Linet in a bid to improve family and community health practices.