Hews Provide Basic Health Services

In efforts aimed at bringing basic health services closer to the people, the Ministry of Health and Social Services saw the graduation of about 111 health extension workers (HEWs) in Katima Mulilo last Friday.

The new graduates will serve as a link between communities and health facilities by increasing access to health services and empowering communities through the promotion of healthy lifestyles.

Speaking on behalf of Zambezi Regional Governor Lawrence Sampofu during the graduation ceremony, Kongola Constituency Councillor David Muluti noted that the success of primary health care depended much on the scaling up of the health extension programme (HEP). “It is recognized that the success of primary health care depends on the four pillars that include accessibility, affordability, equity and community participation. In 2013, Cabinet approved the implementation of HEP and its budget was made available. This resulted in the scaling up of HEP in six regions, including Zambezi,” stated Sampofu.

According to Sampofu, over 100 health extension workers were also awarded certificates last year after undergoing similar training.

“Last year, 100 graduated and have been deployed to seven constituencies and have made services accessible and affordable in their respective communities,” he said.

Significant progress has reportedly been made since the inception of the programme in the region. This includes an increase in the number of referrals to health facilities, a drop in malnutrition cases from 2.9 percent to 0.4 percent and a slight increase in antenatal care coverage from 79 percent to 85.3 percent, according to statistics provided by the Ministry of Health and Social Services.

The work of health extension workers includes the provision of health care services such as maternal, neonatal, child health and nutrition, promotion of healthy drinking water and sanitation, TB, HIV and AIDS and malaria prevention, among others. Speaking at the same event, USAID technical aisor Molisa Manyando noted that health extension workers support efforts by government aimed at improving health care.

“Your graduation represents a milestone in efforts of government to reduce preventable maternal and child deaths, sustain progress against TB and malaria and to ultimately achieve HIV epidemic control and an AIDS-free generation,” said Manyando. Manyando further revealed that government and its partners were targeting over 3 000 health extension workers in the near future in its quest to ultimately improve the health of all Namibians.

“During the course of April and May this year alone, approximately 900 health extension workers will graduate across Namibia moving us towards the target of having around 3 000 HEW across Namibia supporting efforts to bring services closer to the people,” Manyando further stated.

Source : New Era