Hail to the child care champions!
Community hosts celebrations to award certificates of merit to parents of young children for small doable actions that lead to lasting health benefits for mothers and their children.
Abigael Limo, 22, is now recognized as a community champion for child health. She was among 38 mothers and their partners who received certificates for adopting healthy child care practices during a colorful graduation ceremony held at Salawa village in Baringo County.
The ceremony was organized to publicly recognize parents who successfully adopted accelerator behaviors for the health of mothers and children under the Champion Community Model (CCM), a social and behavior change intervention implemented by Afya Uzazi.
The CCM approach is aligned with the critical first 1,000 days of a baby’s life. The intervention targets pregnant mothers, mothers with babies under one year and their male partners. Trained Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) visit households to educate women and their families and motivate them to perform small doable actions that lead to the adoption of healthy practices.
In this approach, parents are encouraged to adopt three sets of seven essential behaviors listed in family checklists for pregnant women, mothers/caretakers of young children and their male partners. The behaviors include attending antenatal clinic at least four times, delivering at a health facility with a skilled attendant, exclusive breastfeeding for six months, appropriate complementary feeding, and good household sanitation and hygiene.
The order of the essential behaviors on the scorecard is as sequential as possible, following progressive needs during pregnancy or an infant’s first year. They specify small doable actions for parents.
“I followed the CCM checklist and my second child did not fall sick unlike the firstborn,” says Abigael. “Before then I did know that it was important to visit the clinic when pregnant and after delivery, neither did I know that children should be immunized.”
Afya Uzazi launched the CCM intervention in Salawa and three other community units in March 2018 by enrolling the first cohort of families. One year later, 366 families have carried out all seven behaviors in Family Scorecards and have earned certificates.
With the CCM activity, the community sets its own targets and then organizes a graduation ceremony once the agreed number of families are documented as practicing the essential actions. During the ceremony, the parents receive their certificates
Local leaders, including the Baringo County Chief Officer for Preventive and Promotive Health, Dr. Winnie Bore, who facilitated the first CCM celebration at Salawa, commended Afya Uzazi for the intervention and the families for being role models.
“The responsibility of taking care of a child is not for women alone. I am happy that most men supported their women until now and I urge you to continue with the same practice,” said Dr. Bore.
To date 2,123 individuals have been issued with checklists. Out of 280 women who have so far given birth, 270 completed 4th antenatal clinic visit and delivered with the assistance of a skilled birth attendant. Only 10 women delivered at home due to causes beyond their means such as facilities being closed at night among other structural challenges.
Following the success of CCM in the four community units, Afya Uzazi is rolling out the activity in 13 more community units with 130 villages in Baringo and Nakuru counties. The project projects to reach 6,890 individuals by the end of September 2019 through the CCM intervention.
About the Champion Community Model (CCM)
The USAID-funded Afya Uzazi program employs the Champion Community Model (CCM) to facilitate social and behavior change at the household level (HH) and boost community engagement. CCM’s approach evolved over several years in health, youth and education programs in Madagascar, Jordan, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia and now in Kenya. With subsequent reiterations, CCM’s three guiding principles emerged: Ensure families can manage the behavior change task; Provide clear targets for families and communities;· Publicly recognize achievers.
Story and photos by Denise Akun, Derrick Ochuot and George Obanyi