By Annette Kote
At Kanyakine Sub-County Hospital in Imenti South, Meru County, we meet Joyce Kagendi Rinkanya, an Enrolled Community Health Nurse. Hidden behind her mask, 52 year old Joyce loves her job and she does it with diligence and a smile.
Driven by her passion for community service, Joyce has been at the forefront in ensuring the observation of and adherence to COVID-19 guidelines at Kanyakine. Stationed at the outpatient and casualty sections, I observe Joyce as she juggles nursing andcustomer service responsible for identifying COVID-19 patients and attending to them.
Shadowing her as she does her job and attends the Amref led HBCC training, Joyce confesses what she currently knows about Covid-19 is largely learnt from the media coupled with trainings like the HBCC. From the latter, she will transfer her knowledge to her colleagues who did not attend the training.
Her passion for the job is not without challenges though, as a mother of four, balancing work and home demands has been admittedly hard especially diring the Covid-19 pandemic. This pressure is further heightened as one of her children has special needs and needs extra attention from her.
A candid speaker, she expresses concern over the casualness and flouting of set protocals by patients around Covid-19. “Many have experienced information fatigue and others are just numb to the information we share but my biggest pet peeve is when colleagues who should be enforcing are the ones flouting the protocals” says Joyce. She further adds “Indeed the disease is not a joke and it will help if all of us appreciate the facts and play our individual and collective roles in combating the pandemic”.
With Meru as one of the 10 counties trargetted by the initial HBCC training, Joyce’s work station Kanyakine Sub-County Hospital was one of the beneficiaries of the HBCC training that took place on between 8 and 11 September 2020 in Nkubu, Meru County. The training, which was conducted by Amref Health Africa, focused on the prevention and control of COVID-19 in highly populated areas and was attended by more than ten staff from the hospital.
The hospital’s Medical Superintendent, Dr Lenah Naitore thanked the Amref team saying, ‘’This was a unique training, our staff learnt a lot about hand hygiene, cough etiquette, maintaining physical distancing, masking-up in public, recognising symptoms and taking corrective actions. We are glad that they have been sharing the knowledge gained with other staff like Joyce.’’
Dr Naitore also confirmed that a week after the training, the hospital registered its first COVID-19 patient, referred to Meru Level 5 Hospital for further tests and isolation.
‘‘Were it not for the training, the staff at the facility would have been overwhelmed and unable to handle the patient as effectively and efficiently as they did.
The HBCC campaigns target the general population at community levels and aim to equip frontline health workers with information about COVID-19. All nine sub-counties of Meru benefited from the training with a total of 342 frontline workers trained.
The Hygiene Behaviour Change Coalition (HBCC) is implementing activities in ten high-risk counties through to May 2021. The Coalition comprised of stakeholders from both the private and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), has been supported by Unilever and the United Kingdom (UK) Department for International Development. The activities of the program will reach approximately 5 million people with vital, timely and reliable behaviour change programs to combat and stop the spread of COVID-19.