Kenya - Simple actions improve lives for people living with HIV
When Monica found out she was HIV-positive she thought life had come to an end. “I was very worried and my health quickly worsened,” says the 35-year-old mother of four, a resident of Bangladesh, a low-income settlement in the Kenyan coastal town of Mombasa.
Monica had given up on life and turned away community health workers who tried to help her come to terms with the situation. Eventually, she opened up to Benta, one of the community health workers who reached out to her. “I am grateful to Benta for insisting on helping me,” says Monica. “I have benefitted a lot from the advice she gives me on health.”
Benta is one of 1,500 Kenyan community health workers in over 30 districts who was trained by the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene and HIV Integration project, part of the USAID-funded WASHplus project.
Using knowledge and skills she gained during her training, Benta taught Monica how to improve her health by taking simple measures such as washing hands after using the toilet and before preparing food and treating drinking water to prevent diarrhea.
People living with HIV face a higher risk of getting infected with diseases such as diarrhea and other common illnesses because HIV lowers the body’s ability to fight infections, so healthy water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) practices are especially important for them follow.
Monica says that she has accepted her HIV status and now lives a healthier life. She and her four young children, whose ages range from 1 to 10, rarely get diarrhea.
The local public health officer, Nelly Tindell, agrees that training in WASH has made a difference and that most household now practice regular hand washing. “Use of toilets and water treatment at household level have reduced cases of diarrhea in the community. Cholera outbreaks that were common in the rainy season are now history,” says Nelly.
The WASHplus project works with the Ministry of Health through its Community Strategy and supports community health workers to promote healthy WASH practices alongside ongoing activities for people with HIV and their households across Kenya. WASHplus is funded by USAID and managed by FHI 360. For more information contact: Evelyn Makena, firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the WASHplus website.