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Community Health Workers take a leading role in combating NCDs


In November 2017, Amref ran free NCD screening sessions in several communities in Kenya

In November 2017, Amref ran free NCD screening sessions in several communities in Kenya

Daniel Kamau Macharia always felt sad when his wife had to wake up early and go to work; leaving him in the house.

“It is not that I was lazy, but every time I went outside too early, I would get sick. I could feel my chest getting tight, and had difficulty breathing,” says Daniel. Unbeknownst to him, Daniel had asthma.


Living in Nyeri County, which is one of the coolest places in Kenya, Daniel had no choice but to wait until midday to leave his house. This affected his ability to provide for his family as he could not keep a job. “We fully depended on my wife for support. And that made me very sad,” he remembers.

All this changed when his neighbour, Jane Theuri, joined the Kagwathi Community Unit, which is linked to the Wamagana Health Facility. Jane was trained under the 'Effective Management and Control of Diabetes and Childhood Asthma in Kenya' project, as a Community Health Worker (CHW), through Leap, the mHealth solution.


“When Jane was trained, she started going round to different households talking to people about diabetes and asthma. She encouraged me to get tested for asthma. It was then that I realised what I suffered from,” adds Daniel.

Daniel was given medication and an inhaler to help him manage his condition. However, to his dismay, nothing changed. “I still could not go out in the morning as it gets so cold and my chest would tighten,” he says. On her second visit, Daniel accused Jane of wasting his time. The medication and the inhaler did not help.

“I asked him to show me how he used the inhaler. I then realised that he used the wrong technique. We had been taught about the right technique, so I was in a position to teach him,” says Jane.


Since then, Daniel has not had problems waking up early and going to work. “I am most pleased by the fact that I can go out and work. I currently work as a middleman in the market. I connect people who are selling their livestock to those who want to buy,” Daniel states proudly. His life has positively changed as he can now also afford to take his children to school. “All my children are in school now. I can afford to pay their school fees. My wife is also not stressed. The whole family is happy,” he adds.


The 'Effective Management and Control of Diabetes and Childhood Asthma in Kenya' project seeks to strengthen the capacity of the health system to ensure quality management of NCDs, in particular diabetes and childhood asthma, through training of health workers, community-based disease surveillance, monitoring, evaluation, and advocacy to influence policy and action. To date, 1,500 CHWs (along with 2,500 health workers) have been trained on effective management and control of both diabetes and asthma in four counties in Kenya: Nyeri, Kilifi, Kakamega and Nairobi. The project is implemented by Amref Health Africa and the different county Ministries of Health with funding from GSK (GlaxoSmithKline).


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Story by Michelle Dibo - Communications, Amref Institute of Capacity Development, Nairobi