The last session of our community health workers (CHW) training started on Monday June 14 2010 and all the participants reported on their experiences
Some of them had discussions with the village folks and tried to change some of their attitudes but to no avail because old traditions and customs are difficult to change. The students had started in their communities by trying to demonstrate the importance of hand washing using the Tippy Tap method but some people of the community bluntly refused, saying that “African germs do not kill”. In reference to the solar disinfected drinking water, these people said their forefathers had been drinking from the wells and ponds and nothing happened, so now that they are in their fifties, what will happen if they do not drink disinfected water?
. Of course, some people have accepted them but others still do not see them to be health workers saying “How can an ordinary tailor or mason of yesterday become a doctor today? How can you be a farmer and be a nurse at the same time?”
As is often the case in Africa, everything foreign is perceived to be the best, so these locally trained CHW’s are not given due respect. There are always people who sit on the fence and do nothing to help to develop their communities. They are enemies of progress because they oppose every new idea.
Some health professionals are seeing these CHWs as a threat to their jobs and have started hating them and saying a lot of bad things about them, that these are false nurses. The students have faced a lot of obstacles but with perseverance, they have endeavored to continue.
In some cases, people are seeing them to be great doctors or nurses because the village health posts do not have the medicines and equipments that the CHWs have access to, so they therefore respect them and willingly come to them to check their BPs, even asking the CHWs to give them injections but the CHWs instead refuse and refer them to the hospitals or health posts. Sometimes, the CHWs will escort very sick and weak people to the hospitals if they cannot go alone.
Through the teaching of the CHWs, people having TB are now using spitting pots and covering their noses and mouths when coughing or sneezing. They do hand washing before meals and wash their clothing’s and cooking utensils by themselves. Those who have started observing good hygienic conditions realize that there has been a significant decrease of diarrhea, cholera and certain infantile diseases.
Most of the CHWs have contacted the village elders and chiefs to sensitize the people during social gatherings, market places and schools on better hygienic conditions, disease prevention like the use of insecticide treated bednets for malaria, diarrhea, diabetes, cholera, food and nutrition, TB, HIV/AIDS, STD’s, communicable diseases and environmental sanitation.
In some villages, the youths are collaborating with them to make door to door visits. Some village folks are patronizing them and even saying that it is God who has brought these doctors to their door steps because they used to walk long distances to the health posts.
The instruction in the use of Condoms brought about a lot of controversy. The men are reluctant to use them saying that God gives. As for mental illness and the use of drugs and alcohol, there is a superstitious believe that it is a devil-sent illness.
The morning devotions given by the Pastors during the sessions emphasized courage, commitment, human beings as the image of God, the blessing of those who go to places where others refuse to go and sacrifice to help others in difficult situations.
The RDV, a popular radio and television station, came and documented the closing ceremony and showed it on the national television on the Saturday the 19th of June 2010.
Before the closing ceremony, the CHW’s expressed their heart-felt gratitude with vote of thanks to the GBGM, Dr. Carol and her group, the Senegal UMC and all those who contributed in cash or in kind towards their training with tears of joy. A big thank you for your love and concern and May the Almighty God bless you.