The Association of Sisterhoods of Kenya (AOSK) has launched a six-months COVID-19 Prevention and COVID-19 Awareness Campaign to encourage communities to get vaccinated and embrace other preventive measures.
Through funding from the Hilton Foundation, 80 sister-run health facilities spread across the country will participate in this campaign with the goal to ensure Catholic nuns champion for the realization of a COVID-19 free nation. Approximately 1,500 front line health workers (including sisters) will benefit from various trainings to build their capacity and knowledge on COVID-19 during the campaign period running from July and December 2021. The campaign is expected to reach approximately 5 million community members with COVID-19 and vaccine information through various interventions.
The project will ensure the nuns are empowered with information about COVID-19 and vaccines to disseminate to the communities they serve, communities are encouraged to embrace COVID-19 preventive measures and get vaccinated, and the sister-run facilities have improved equipment and medical supplies.
‘‘As AOSK, we applaud the Ministry of Health’s efforts in COVID-19 response and recognise that a successful war against the pandemic requires both public and private sector support in advocacy on the COVID-19 vaccine uptake, provision of essential medical supplies, provision of protective gears and behaviour change communication,’’ noted Sr.Pasilisa Namikoye, Executive Secretary, Association of Sisterhoods of Kenya (AOSK) at a workshop to sensitise administrators of the 80 health facilities on the campaign.
‘‘Catholic sisters‘ have always worked to improve and increase accessibility of basic healthcare to the most vulnerable in the communities. We would like to utilise our vast distribution across the country, direct engagement in the health sector and proximity to the masses to disseminate COVID-19 information to communities we serve and encourage vaccine uptake,’’ she further commented.
This project complements the work of the Government in COVID-19 response in creating awareness about the pandemic and encouraging communities to protect themselves from infections by following the preventive measures and getting vaccinated.
Specifically, the project will conduct online trainings for front line health workers (doctors, nurses, lab technicians and pharm technicians) on COVID-19 prevention, control and home based care, COVID-19 vaccine and administration and will hold psycho-spiritual support forums to the workers and those affected by the pandemic. Trainings wlill commence on August 10.
At the same time, AOSK will facilitate the 80 health facilities to carry out community outreach programs on COVID-19 vaccine awareness, train health providers on COVID-19 vaccine, prevention, control and home-based care, and procure PPE kits, COVID-19 test kits, latex gloves, surgical masks, face shields, thermo guns, refilling oxygen cylinders and pulse oximeter (SPO machines).
Catholic sisters have always worked to improve and increase accessibility of basic healthcare to the most vulnerable in the communities. Majority of them run levels one and two health facilities, which mostly take care of the poor and vulnerable. Owing to their vast distribution across the country, direct engagement in the health sector and proximity to masses of people, catholic sisters have a strategic advantage of reaching the masses with COVID-19 preventive and vaccination messages.
The Catholic Church in Kenya, through the Dioceses and Congregations of religious men and women, provides health services through a network of health facilities that today comprise of 65 hospitals, 90 health centers, and 300 Dispensaries with an approximate total of 5837 healthcare providers, of which over 300 are sisters-run while the rest are diocesan/parish run. AOSK health networks are under the Catholic Health Commission of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB), and collaborates with the Ministry of Health to achieve the Government goal of “attaining equitable, affordable, accessible and quality health care for all.”