Background

COVID-19 is rapidly spreading across the world; by the end of March 2021, Kenya had reported a total number of 132,635 confirmed cases with 2,147 deaths. To reduce the spread, Kenya adopted World Health Organisation (WHO) strategies to interrupt human-to-human transmission including: (1) reducing secondary infections among close contacts and health care workers, (2) inhibiting transmission amplification events, and (3) training health workers for early detection of suspected cases, diagnosis, and management. Drawing from more than 60 years’ experience in health systems strengthening and community-led change, Amref Health Africa is working closely with regional ministries of health, alongside WHO in implementing preventive measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 and strengthen frontline health worker resilience.

As part of Amref Health Africa’s continental response to COVID-19, the Institute of Capacity Development (ICD) led the implementation of a 6-month GSK funded ‘COVID-19 Stop the Spread’ project in Kenya through the following interventions:

  1. Training of frontline health workers (Community Health Volunteers and Health Care Professionals (HCPs) to strengthen surveillance, infection prevention, monitoring and referral mechanisms, and diagnostics.
  2. Promoting the health and safety of health workers (occupational and psychological).
  3. Advocacy and increasing awareness on COVID – 19 prevention and control at community level including hard to reach areas.

Approach

The project had three key approaches based on the three project objectives:

Approach 1: Support content creation and digitisation for CHVs and HCPs

The Ministry of Health (MoH) in Kenya developed a COVID-19 course for the training of CHVs (via Leap) and HCPs (via JIBU). At the inception of the project most of these training courses has been digitised through support from other funding and implementing partners (Master Card Foundation). However, as the pandemic evolved, a need emerged for content on home-based care for CHVs. Hence the project supported the development and digitisation of a module on Home-Based Isolation and Care guidelines aligned to the national CHV COVID-19 curriculum. The content has been added to the Leap curriculum targeting CHVs. The content writing process and subsequent translation was guided by subject matter experts (SMEs) from the MoH and Amref.

Approach 2: Train 2,000 HCPs through the Jibu App and 4,000 CHVs through Leap

Health Care Professionals (HCPs): a total of 2,050 (103%) of the targeted 2,000 HCPs on the MOH accredited COVID-19 curriculum.

Community Health Volunteers (CHVs): 4,650 (116%) CHVs in three counties were enrolled on the course, surpassing the targeted 4,000 CHVs.

Approach 3: Provide mental health support to MoH

Amref engaged the Kenya MoH to identify the best approaches of offering psycho-social support to people experiencing COVID-19 related stress and stigma. The initial plan was to support the set-up of a national tele-counselling centre. However, this was difficult as it is a large-scale initiative dependent on support from multiple partners.

Accomplishments

  1. COVID-19 content creation and digitisation for CHVs and HCPs
  2. COVID-19 Content modules for HCPs development and digitisation
  3. Training of HCPs through Jibu
  4. Training of CHVs through Leap
  5. Tele-counselling support to MOH
  6. Finalised, digitised and deployed a mental health curriculum and manual for Community Health Assistants (CHAs) and the community health cadre
  7. Conducted a knowledge, attitude and practice (KAP) survey in Meru Country to better understand mental health needs/gaps, and implement select strategies
  8. Supported the Meru County Mental Health Task Force to develop a handbook of sensitisation messages to address the issues around stigma and social discrimination.

Lessons Learned

  • Involvement of CHMTs from the onset is crucial as this led to more commitment from learners as well as a sense of ownership.
  • The ToT approach has proven to be very effective and sustainable, as follow-up becomes easier and the reporting function is delegated to TOTs.
  • There are major gaps in mental health programming that provide an opportunity for development organisations such as Amref to intervene.

Conclusion

The project contributed in strengthening COVID-19 surveillance, monitoring and referral mechanisms and, diagnostics in Kenya through equipping the frontline health workers with the necessary knowledge and skills to respond to the pandemic. The Mental Health KAP survey alluded a huge gap on mental health and psychosocial care hence potential areas for future collaboration.

References

Training of healthcare professionals through Jibu Platform

https://jibu.africa

Acknowledgements

  1. GSK
  2. Amref Health Africa (Institute of Capacity Development, Amref Health Innovations, Amref Laboratory)

Contact Person

Diana Mukami – Head of Programmes and Digital Learning Director | Institute of Capacity Development – [email protected]

Project Brief

Project period: 6 Months

Project budget: £200,000

Partner: GlaxoSmithKline

Target group: Frontline health workers (Community Health Volunteers and Health Care Professionals

Region: Kenya

Project close out report: Click here