Working Together to Bring About a Healthier Kenya
There is currently a knowledge gap in Kenya in 2 key areas:
1. Health and wellness information
2. Mental health services
Despite noticeable trends of anxiety and depression across Kenya, individuals are often punished and ostracized for their experiences of psychological distress. For example, suicide is illegal in Kenya and I witnessed a young boy being arrested after attempting suicide by drinking pesticides.
The culture, everyday trauma, and impact of abuse in Kenya is frequently manifested in common plights such as mental health problems, rape, and female genital mutilation (FGM). Leading to intergenerational trauma.
Cecilia Jakobsson, HFLK Researcher and CEO.
To develop an accessible Health and Physical Education curriculum for schools in Kenya that instills positive attitudes towards health and active living.
- Improve knowledge about water, sanitation and basic hygiene, sex education, mental health, female genital mutilation, and HIV/Aids to prevent poor health and illness.
- Improve easy access to quality information about mental health and services in communities in Kenya.
- Advocate for psychologists at a macro level, including support for youth in schools, and through counseling to end the cycle of lack of information and to stop stigma and treat youth mental health by empowering youth through building resilience in youth and their trust in healthcare providers to prevent health-related harm.
WHAT’S COMING 2021
We’re updating our health education posters that make health information resources more accessible at all ages and different levels of language proficiency so that everyone is comfortable with them.
We’ll make this information accessible online as well.
Awareness campaign and public health education to prevent misinform, reinforcement of trauma and perpetuation of abuse from cultural and social practices.
Reviewing how a comprehensive health course can complement Kenya’s new 2-6-3-3-3 curriculum that replaced the 32-year-old 8-4-4 system in January 2018.
Design seminars and posters aimed at addressing youth’s most pertinent health concerns.
Over 400 print posters drawn from World Health Organization have been distributed to 30 schools, clinics and libraries around Kenya.
Schools we visited:
Lewa Primary School
Karimba Primary School
Kanyunga Primary School
Angelina Jolie Girls Primary School – Kakuma
Chop Primary School – Fluorspar
Chepsirre Primary School
Muskut Primary School – Kerio Valley
Metkei Girls Secondary School
Sesia Primary School – Kerio Valley
Fluorspar Primary School – Fluorspar
Precious Blood Secondary School – Nairobi
Reached around 7,500 students with our health education and deworming school visits.
The approach that we had this summer was to talk to the teachers and the students and ask them which health topics they were curious or concerned about. We would then do research and create a lesson plan. We found that the most effect approach was to have discussions where we would answer the students questions. If they were shy we would divide the class up into groups and ask each group to think of a couple of questions.
The most common lesson topics were, hygiene, sanitation, puberty and mental health.
For the girls we would also talk to them about female health and hygiene which includes, menstruation, female genital mutilation, pregnancy, abortion, early marriages and female sanitation/complications.
Our aim is to make Health for Life Kenya a national project whereby students can sign up as volunteers and help educate Kenya’s youth.
There will be lesson plans on the website which students can use as teaching material.
The Health for Life Team has been in Lewa – talking to two primary schools,one secondary school about female health (FGM, early pregnancy, abortion, menstruation, unitary tract infection) and secondary boys about drugs.
The Team has also started a Facebook Page. You can follow them here. They reached 1677 people in two days.
Health Educational posters were distributed to these additional schools:
1. Marakwet East – Sambirir secondary and Queen of Peace – chesongoch.
2. Marakwet West – Kapsowar girls and chebara secondary.
3. Keiyo North – Sing’ore girls and Tambach high school.
4. Keiyo South – Marie soti sec, Kapkenda girls, Simotwo and Soy secondary.
The Health for Life team created health educational posters and put them up in the libraries of 6 schools (Fluorspar Primary, Chepsirre, Muskut, Saisga, Metkei, Koimur). Met with the County Director of Health, County Health Promotion, County School Health Coordinator. They supported the posters and agreed to help distribute them within the county. Also met with the Deputy Sub county Public Health Officers, Constituent AIDS Coordinator, and School Health Co-Programmer for Keiyo South who showed their support.
The Health for Life team gave health talks in 2 schools (Fluorspar Primary, Chepsirre) focussing on hygiene, stress/anxiety and menstruation. Dewormed 4 schools (Fluorspar Primary, Chepsirre, Fluorspar Nursery, Chop). Cleaned septic wounds of 40-50 students and educated them on how to do this at Chepsirre.
In addition to working in Elgeyo Marakwet county, the Health for Life Team will conduct research and teach the Health for Life curriculum in Kakamega and Isiolo counties.
In Isiolo we will work with the following 9 schools:
Mutunyi, Kilimani, Kanyunga, Lewa, Rugusu, Munanda, Sanga, Leparua, and Ntalabany.
The Isiolo medical clinics we will work with are the following 4:
Ntirimiti, Lewa, Ngare Ndare and Leparua clinics.
The Health for Life Team will teach the Health for Life curriculum to Nairobi Primary School’s 2,000 students.
We carried on with the pilot classes and exploratory consultations with relevant authorities in Elgeyo Marakwet County.
Elgeyo Marakwet County Governor, Alex Tolgos, pledged to allocate funds in the County’s 2015 budget to ensure that the Health for Life Kenya pilot that started in his County, in June 2014 succeeds.
For support in developing the mental health component of a Kenyan Health for Life curriculum, our member, Cecilia Jacobsson, presented the Health for Life Kenya project to Thomas Canale (CAMS Program Advisor) at the Child Study Centre at New York University (NYU), Lagone Medical Centre, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Recruiting NYU students for an international exchange program to assist with Health for Life Kenya’s mission would be beneficial.
Dr. Brenda Makokha, Kakamega County Director of Health contacted the Health for Life Team. Together, in 2015, we will investigate completing a pilot to assess the benefits of a Health for Life curriculum in Kakamega County.
The Health-for-Life team attended the DFID (British Department for International Development) and the M-PESA Foundation (mobile banking) Foundations Meeting which hosted 20 Kenyan and International Foundations. The Foundations included the Rockefeller, Ford, Gates, Equity, Safaricom and Akiba Khaki Foundations. We were provided an opportunity to update ourselves on developments made by the invited charities and to discuss ways for possible collaborations.
The Health for Life Kenya team was very fortunate to be able to present our School Health Education Policy Proposal to Kenya’s Principal Education Secretary, Dr Richard Belio Kipsang. Not only was the proposal well received, but Dr. Kipsang concurred with our team’s opinion that a need for youth health intervention is necessary. Dr. Kipsang commended us for the scope of the proposed Health for Life curriculum and the various innovative methods that will be used to reach the masses. He informed us that the Ministry of Education has a department dedicated to Youth Health education, and noted that by consolidating our efforts we can achieve our common goal of a healthier generation. He signed our proposal and put us in contact with Mrs. Rotich who will be our liaison in the Ministry of Education. Together with Mrs. Rotich, we will coordinate an evaluation of our joint efforts and the next steps for collaborating and forming a working committee, whose aim will be to oversee the successful implementation of a Health for Life curriculum. The final syllabus/curriculum/program will be the responsibility of relevant Kenyan authorities.
We completed our Health for Life Kenya Health Education Policy Proposal.
The Health for Life Kenya team met Elgeyo Marakwet County’s Governor and his health and education officials to discuss health challenges in the county and in Kenya. Our team suggested ways in which a school health education program, modelled on the Ontario Health for Life curriculum, can support and improve health care delivery to youth in Kenya. The Governor welcomed a pilot of the program in his County and pledged County support for it and a commitment to serve the health needs of its over 130,000 students.
June to August 2014
Students from Branksome Hall School Toronto, New York University, Sheffield University UK, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology and Kenyatta University faculty teamed up and formed The Health for Life Kenya research and advocacy group concerning health education policy in Kenya. Together, we collated research and conducted trial Health for Life classes in Elgeyo Marakwet County.
Toronto students visited 3 schools in Kenya, taught 21 health education classes, modelled on Ontario’s Health for Life school curriculum course, to 950 students. The students from Toronto discovered that there is a need for school health education for the rest of Kenya.
The Health for Life team created health educational posters and put them up in the libraries of 16 schools with ongoing support from county officials
Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Education,
Dr. Richard Belio Kipsang accepts our youth-driven policy proposal for school health education in Kenya
Sharon Koimett Health for Life Kenya’s Program Manager attends and speaks at the DFID-MPESA Foundation Forum
Governor Tolgos generously confirmed his county will make an allocation in its budget for the Health for Life program.
Health for Life Kenya and Kenya Youth Senate
Kenya Youth Senate team up with Health for Life Kenya
OVERVIEW OF HEALTH FOR LIFE PROGRAM
Elgeyo Marakwet County Government pledges its support