Over 60,000 women and children are benefitting from an Islamic Relief project to improve access to basic health and nutrition services in rural Kenya.

Remote communities in Mandera and Wajir counties are amongst the poorest in Kenya, with chronic food insecurity, high rates of malnutrition, and low access to healthcare services.

Compared to the national average, children living in these areas are twice as likely to die before their fifth birthday – with maternal mortality rates also particularly high.

Our latest healthcare project is improving access to healthcare in two districts of Mandera and two in Wajir, in which few women and children have access to even basic healthcare services.

Increasing access to vital services

During the ten-month programme, we have been delivering mobile outreach in hard-to-reach communities, focusing on services for women and children. Three district hospitals have gained extra capacity to carry out comprehensive obstetric care, whilst ten health centres have been equipped to offer basic obstetric care.

Islamic Relief has increased awareness and demand for services by working with institutions such as village health committees and health units, and supporting mother support groups and school health clubs. Local religious leaders have also been targeted in our ambitious awareness campaign.

Improving the quality of healthcare

To improve the quality of maternal and child health and nutrition services, we are also strengthening local health systems. Health workers and community health workers are benefitting from capacity-building training, and a range of health professionals have received treatment guidelines as well as training designed to improve service delivery.

In addition, we have established a referral system for emergency obstetric cases, and are working with the Ministry of Health to provide health facilities and community units with regular support supervision.

“I have been able to transform the lives of many families”

Mama Abdia is a community health worker at Wagalla Health Centre.

Mama Abdia is a community health worker at Wagalla Health Centre.

Abdia Hussein Adan – known as Mama Abdia – is a community health worker at Wagalla Health Centre, nine kilometres from Wajir town. A mother-of-ten, Mama Abdia began working as a traditional birth attendant more than two decades ago and then trained as a community health volunteer before becoming a health worker with Islamic Relief. With four children still studying, and three young children, she is the sole breadwinner for her family.

“I have been able to transform the lives of many families in the Wagalla community,” says Mama Abdia. “Women now appreciate that exclusive breastfeeding leads to healthy babies. At the health facility we encourage breastfeeding and support women in breastfeeding properly.”

She also works with mothers and other child-carers in the community to improve knowledge of various health and nutrition issues.

“I do follow up and home visits for beneficiaries of the outpatient therapeutic programme and supplementary feeding programme, where I advise care-givers and promote the ready-to-use therapeutic food.

“This has given me the chance to pass on health and nutrition information to the entire community.”

When the project is completed at the end of September, more than 45,500 vulnerable children and almost 16,700 women will have benefitted.