Peace Kpodo, HealthKeepers Network.
Community health workers provide essential services that improve the quality of life of their own families and neighbors. In Ghana, their contributions to the health care sector have been tremendous.
Peace Kpodo is one such health worker. She joined HealthKeepers Network in August last year and works in Madina, a suburb of Ghana’s capital.
The services that Peace provides include education on family planning; dispelling myths and misconceptions about HIV and AIDS; and promoting and selling family planning commodities and other high-impact health-promoting products like oral rehydration salts, zinc, and water purification tablets.
Peace also sells foodstuffs at the market, but her livelihood depends on her income from her work as a HealthKeeper. She enjoys the work, having always dreamed of being a nurse. Of course, she acknowledges, the work can be challenging. Sensitizing people to family planning requires tact because of associated misconceptions and cultural taboos. “It takes perseverance to convince some people to use family planning,” she says.
Peace notes that most people prefer to discuss family planning issues confidentially, and she is careful to keep client information private. For example, when a client tests positive for HIV, the test result must not be disclosed to his/her partner(s) without the client’s consent.
Peace also notes that when going to someone’s home she pays close attention to the sanitary conditions, because the cleanliness of the compound determines how healthy the people are. “When the environment is dirty, I offer advice on how to keep the environment clean,” says Peace.
Peace’s days are often hectic but enjoyable. She goes out of her way to get her clients the supplies that they need, sometimes walking long distances in the rain to deliver them. “On occasions when I have no means of transport, I still strive to reach out to my customers,” she says. She orders commodities from HealthKeepers by phone and pays for goods using mobile money. This way her commodities are always available.
Although Peace provides family planning commodities to many women, teenage pregnancy in her community is on the rise. Peace wants to change that by holding town hall meetings and group discussions. She hopes to enlist experts to support this undertaking.
With additional funding provided by a grant awarded under Advancing Partners & Communities (APC), HealthKeepers Network is expanding their community-based family planning (CBFP) project. The CBFP project aims to reduce the gap between the demand and the supply of HIV prevention and family planning (FP) products. The program provides access to affordable contraception, including condoms and oral contraceptives, as well as other products and services.