Monday, July 29, 2013

[Kasambiika 2] Sensitizations, sensitizations, sensitizations!

Jambo again from Kasambiika 2!

Time sure does fly when you’re having fun! We are more than half way through our time here in beautiful Kasambiika 2 and so much has happened!

After having our first village community meeting we hit the ground running! Our focus has been to introduce interventions for five specific public health issues: malaria, HIV/AIDS, obstetric fistula, family planning, and safe water, sanitation & hygiene. So far we’ve conducted sensitizations for malaria, HIV/AIDS and family planning and plan to have our last two in the coming weeks.

A lot goes in to conducting one of these sensitizations – from planning the agenda and preparing a script to creating visual aids and mobilizing people in the village to attend – but it’s all worth it when there’s a great turn out and people are engaged and eager to participate! 

At our malaria sensitization we had a remarkable 82 people in attendance! Men, women and children of all ages came to enjoy the “show” (so to speak, but we did perform a skit illustrating the importance of tucking in your malaria net!). Community members took advantage of the opportunity to ask questions and jumped at the chance to buy the subsidized malaria nets available for sale. By the end of the event we had sold more than half of our stock and the remaining nets were gone by the end of the week!

We had an equally fulfilling experience at our family planning event this past week where 58 people were in attendance. After discussing different family planning methods, women lined up for their check-ups and eagerly waited to get their method of choice. Some women were so excited that they even pushed and shoved each other (playfully, of course) to be first in line! The nurse was able to distribute methods to nearly 20 women and referred 5 for methods that needed to be performed at the health center. It was great to see such a great turn out for the event, especially because family planning was a hot topic among women in our focus groups.

So it probably goes without saying that the overwhelming engagement and participation from village members has made our sensitizations our greatest success. However, life in Kasambiika 2 isn’t without its challenges. Our greatest challenge so far was revealed when we attempted to partner with the local health center to hold an HIV testing day for the community. Because of preexisting tensions between our village and the local health center it has been difficult to encourage people to participate in testing.

Nevertheless, our team is hopeful that this challenge can be overcome. We believe its critical for self-reliance and sustainability that people become comfortable with accessing services at the local health center, especially for health issues as important as HIV testing and treatment.

With only a few weeks left we still have a lot we want to accomplish! We look forward to sharing more in our next post! Stay tuned!

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