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Lwala Healthcare Project

An Interview with Mercy Owuor

August 27, 2016 - Kenya

Danielle Etter

In the month of August, Real Medicine Foundation has been featuring the Lwala Healthcare Project in Kenya. Since Lwala Community Alliance’s beginning in 2007, RMF has played a critical role, providing funding and mentorship throughout the organization’s development. Currently, RMF provides medicines for children under 5, clinical staff salaries, ambulance repairs and fuel, and funds for hospital referral costs.

In our previous blogs, you can read more about the role of community within LCA and the incredible work they are doing to limit the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Over the last month, I have had the honor of communicating with Mercy Owuor, Community Programs Director, via email. She was gracious enough to answer some questions and provide insight into LCA’s take on maternal and child health, their cutting-edge integrated approach, and their meaningful partnership with RMF.

Interview Q & A

Please tell me about your role in Lwala Community Alliance (LCA).

I am the community programs director at Lwala Community Alliance responsible for providing overall leadership in design and effective implementation of the community outreach programs including public health outreach, education and economic empowerment.

How did you come to be part of LCA? What drew you to the organization?

My dream has always been to work more closely with women to help them achieve their dreams including the dream of seeing their children grow to become the best they can be and fulfil their purpose in life.

Lwala provided me with this opportunity because my first role at Lwala was to create demand for maternal and child health services at Lwala Community Hospital that will reduce maternal and child morbidity and mortality. This meant recruiting a team of community health workers and working more closely with pregnant women to achieve the objective.

What is an integrated approach and why is this so important to LCA?

Integrated approach is providing holistic care and support to individuals to improve their wellbeing. We cannot improve [an] individual’s wellbeing [or] health without addressing the social determinants of health. These are those issues that play out in the day to day life of women and children for example that more often than not have a direct effect on their health.

For example, when a woman cannot provide proper nutrition to her children, and she is not even educated enough to know the importance of proper nutrition, we will always end up with sick children no matter how much medicine we give them. If young adolescent girls in schools are not educated about their own sexual and reproductive health, we will end up with teenage pregnancies that are complicated thus driving neonatal and child mortalities. We know at this age, their bodies are not mature enough to handle a pregnancy and as a result we end up losing the mother, the child or both.

What part does RMF play in LCA?

RMF has been playing a key role in reducing maternal and child mortalities in North Kamagambo. In our effort to reduce maternal and child morbidity and mortality, we required a supply system that would meet the demand. RMF provides medicines and equipment to make this happen. RMF also provides funding for referral services in cases of emergencies. RMF also pays for some of the staff that provide services for pregnant women and children including nurses and clinicians.

How has RMF impacted the success of LCA?

Currently we have cut early infant mortality into half the county average and RMF has played a pivotal role in this achievement. Having a constant supply of medicines and proper equipment has reduced the delay in care thus reducing mortalities that could have resulted from delayed care at the hospital.

In addition, commodity stock-outs determine health seeking behaviour and people would not want to walk all the way to be told that there are no medicines to support them. With RMF, we are able to constantly stock the necessary medicines required to keep women and children healthy. Through RMF, we have also entered into an agreement with other tertiary institutions to provide tertiary care in cases of maternal and neonatal emergencies like obstructed labour, blood transfusion among others. RMF has ensured that we are on course to reducing maternal and child morbidity and mortality in North Kamagambo.

How have you, personally, been impacted by the work in North Kamagambo?

Women and children are so close to my heart and seeing pregnant women have their babies in a more dignified way at a clean hospital and getting the proper care to see their children survive beyond five years makes my heart melt with joy. It gives me hope and confidence for a better tomorrow.

What is your message to everyone out there who is reading this?

When communities are in the front of driving their own change, then the change will be a lasting change with far reaching benefits for a better tomorrow. Women and children are the future and just like everybody else they deserve that future. Let us join hands to make that happen!

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