By Treezer Michelle Atieno
The lack of remuneration for Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) in Kenya has been a subject of debate for a long time. Reports indicate that 73% of CHVs in Kenya are women.
The remuneration of CHVs is crucial to ensuring that CHVs are motivated to provide services to their communities. CHVs in Kenya do not receive compensation, with more than 80% working voluntarily despite their crucial role.
This situation has led to burnout among CHVs, as they struggle to balance volunteer work with other income-generating activities. Furthermore, with the majority of them being women, the lack of remuneration places a disproportionate burden on them, especially those with caregiving responsibilities.
They meeting held between the Council of Governors and the Ministry of Health in December 2022, they agreed that they would have to put in place resources to go towards CHVs compensation package.
In February 2023, The Ministry of Health pledged to advance conditional grants to counties to support the maintenance of CHVs. The grants amounting to Sh2.7 billion will be released in the next three years to support 100,000 CHVs who play a critical role in promotive and preventive health.
Currently, a few counties have already established a payment plan for CHVs. One of the counties is Homabay County which recently started paying CHVs stipends to strengthen universal health coverage in Homabay.
“The CHVs were paid their stipend last in June 2020. But our new programme will pay CHVs every month. The County government will also be paying for their medical cover month,” said Homa Bay County Chief Officer for Health, Kevin Osuri.
In the programme, Homabay County pays each 2,954 CHV a stipend of Sh2,000 per month and the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) Sh500 as medical cover for the CHVs.
Other counties that are also paying CHVs are Tharaka Nithi County and Bungoma County.
Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) are trained community members who work as a link between the community and formal health facilities. They are responsible for providing basic health services such as health education, disease prevention, and treatment.
CHVs role is crucial in addressing health inequalities by bringing essential health services closer to the people, especially those in rural and underserved areas. CHVs also help to reduce the burden on formal health systems by identifying and treating minor illnesses before they become severe and referring patients to formal health facilities when necessary.