Community health volunteers in Nairobi will get medical cover as well as undergo training and certification if a Bill being tabled at the Nairobi County Assembly is becomes law.
The Nairobi City County Health Services Bill, the brainchild of Zimmerman MCA Pius Mbono, seeks to streamline the operations of the community health volunteers in the county.
To achieve this, the Bill calls for the county government, through the Health executive, to make arrangements for the training and certification of the volunteers using an approved curriculum.
The county government will also be required to give a stipend, inclusive of National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) cover, to every community health volunteer subject to the volunteer attaining at least 80 percent performance target.
Nairobi County has a total of 6,250 community health workers who work in the more than 1,000 health centres across all the 85 wards in the capital city.
MCA Mbono said that the Bill will see to it that City Hall embraces the health volunteers by recognising them as county health workers as well as registering them so as to improve their welfare.
This is in addition to calling for the county to ensure protection of health and safety of all community health volunteers and community health services personnel in the county as well as the creation of necessary institutional and coordination framework to encourage and facilitate voluntary provision of community healthcare services.
“The national government used to train the volunteers but since health was devolved, the relationship of the volunteers with the county has deteriorated and they have been working in deplorable conditions with not even protective gear.
“We want a law to compel the county government to engage the volunteers as their own and use them to reach the grassroots,” added Mr Mbono.
Last month, City Hall announced that the health volunteers will get at least Sh500 per month for the NHIF cover while their monthly stipend will be increased from the current Sh1,300 to Sh3,000.
Mr Mbono said the Bill also wants City Hall to establish community health units within the county so as to provide for effective delivery of community health services to residents. This, he said, is because each person residing in the county has a right to access basic healthcare services provided by the county government.
The Zimmermann MCA pointed out that the established community health units should comprise of not more than 1,000 households with 10 community health volunteers under the supervision of a minimum of two community health assistants or officers.
“We want to move from curative to preventive services as it will only be possible through engaging the volunteers. They will be able to give reports to alert the county in time in case of an outbreak to prevent further spread of a disease. This will reduce the burden of using a lot of funds in curative services,” he said.
The responsibilities of the volunteer will include tracing and referral of health-related cases to the nearest health facilities, home visits to determine health situation, promoting appropriate home-based care for the sick with the support of health partners and mobilising community members to adopt health promotion practices.
This is in addition to organising, mobilising and leading community health activities, maintaining household registers and keeping records of community health related events, conducting community disease surveillance and response as well as enrolling households towards achieving universal health coverage.
The first reading of the Bill was on July 18. It will be subjected to a stakeholders meeting ahead of the second reading set for August 8.