REACHOUT honourable mention in photo competition

By Kate Hawkins

We are really proud that two of the REACHOUT partners (LVCT Health and The Eijkman Institute of Molecular Biology) were singled out for special praise in a recent photography competition which was organised by Research in Gender and Ethics (RinGs), a new cross-RPC partnership between Future Health Systems, ReBUILD and RESYST. The aim of the competition was to capture the everyday stories of the ways that gender plays out within health systems around the world. Our photos (above) were exhibited at the Global Symposium on Health Systems Research in Cape Town.

This was a great opportunity for us to demonstrate some of the work that close-to-community providers are doing in our respective settings. Raclicia Limato explains,

“The photograph shows Indonesian village health volunteers locally called “Kaders” in action. Kaders are non-salaried volunteers chosen by the village community to help the village midwife or nurse in organising the Posyandu. The Posyandu is a community integrated health post held monthly in the village to bring health services closer to the rural community.

The Posyandu functions mainly to provide preventive and health promotion services mainly to the mother and child. Typically a kader is expected to have basic literacy of school certification. They can be male or female. A five Kader, five table system with an activity per table is used to run a Posyandu. Their task is to register the women and children, which is what they are seen doing in the photograph. Other tasks they do are weighing under-five children, fill in the record book for growth monitoring, provide health and nutritional counselling and additional food supplementation. They also do home visits to check for pregnant women and inform of the Posyandu day.”

The image from Kenya demonstrates how, in an effort to reach underserved and marginalised populations, LVCT counselors criss-cross the hilly and rocky Maasai land terrain to carry out HIV Home-Based Testing and Counselling (HBTC). Redemta Atieno documented this process and spoke to key stakeholders,

“The HTC counsellor team leader Wilkista Nduko said her team is passionate about ensuring that this community is reached with HTC services. She at the same time noted that due to the location and terrain of the area, it is very hard to get to the villages. “The counsellors have to leave very early on empty stomachs to start the journey to the villages because if we delay the sun becomes very hot and it becomes difficult to walk for many hours,” she noted.

Mr Risa Mbelati, a community member who was tested with his two wives said he was happy with the services offered. “I am grateful to the team for coming this far to provide testing and counselling to us. I have received knowledge that would help me to stay negative and not put my family at risk.”

LVCT’s Community HTC Programme Officer who is attached to the APHIAplus program Ken Omugah said the aim of this exercise was to achieve government’s pledge of ensuring that by 2013, 80 percent of Kenyans know their correct and current status.

He cited lack of information as a hindrance in penetrating the community. “Some people here had never even heard of testing. It is amazing that after continuous and persistent sensitization we have had over 91 percent of new testers and we had husbands agreeing to test with their wives,” he beamed.”

To see the winning photograph and the shortlist of honourable mentions please visit the RinGs website.