Promoting Preventive Community Health
The population of West Nile region suffers from an extremely high disease burden from otherwise preventable causes. Over 85% of the diseases attended to by health facilities are from malaria, gastro intestinal infections, and HIV/AIDS. The frequent deaths from these diseases also come with high economic tolls. The primary drivers of these morbidity and mortality conditions, at the household and community levels, includes (i) Lack of access to safe water sources as many homes depend on unsafe water from running streams, dugout valleys, rock creaks, and rivers; (ii) Poor sanitation and hygiene practices given that open defecation is a norm in many villages; and (iii) For HIV/AIDS, from the high rate of unsafe sexual practices coupled with limited comprehensive knowledge of HIV/AIDS and inadequate community structures to support Persons Living with AIDS (PLWA) and Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC).
The cumulative result of such a high disease burden is reduced labour productivity. For instance, malaria cost about 8 lost days and saps about US$8 per person-episode. This in part explains why many smallholder farmers with adequate land only farm small acreages as they spend more time on the management of sickness (of either themselves or their family members)
To reduce the disease burden and improve on the labour productivity AFARD delves into:
- Provision of sustainable access to safe water points through water point construction and setting up a functional community management system;
- Building peer-to-peer behavior change communication, education, and learning;
- Promoting Community Sanitation Policing to ensure no open defecation;
- Collaboration with existing health facilities for community access to biomedical HIV prevention services;
- Building Post Test Clubs as sustainable community care and support system for PLWA and OVC.