Empowering and Engaging
Due to fluctuating funding, CHAT's mobile unit is only able to visit each community approximately every three months. These visits primarily provide access to family planning, but also include CHAT's other integrated services. Of course, problems persist in our absence. Many of the communities we serve are so remote that we are the only source of reliable healthcare available to them. Because of this, we capacity-build the communities to be as sustainable as possible.
Rather than creating a culture of dependency, CHAT's clinics empower individuals in the communities we serve to become Family Planning Community-Own Resource Persons (FPCORPs) and community based HIV/AIDS Counsellors and Testers (HCTCORPs). These people provide on-going support to the local populations when the clinic is not present. They also serve as CHAT's "ears" on the ground, giving us regular feedback, through their formal and informal reports, on the community's satisfaction with the services we provide, on the needs of the communities, and also on the community's whereabouts, as many are often on the move.
CHAT has been able to ensure that these CORPs are incorporated into the Ministry of Health – another element of sustainability for the community-based health workers. Working closely with our clinic staff, the CORPs have been capacity-built and empowered to provide services such as family planning counselling, HIV/AIDS testing and counselling, providing nutritional education and support, tracking TB defaulters and multiple other services.
CORPs also initiate and lead legitimate Community-Based Organisations (CBOs) providing psycho-social help for people living with HIV/AIDS. In addition, these CBOs advocate for other health services such as family planning and TB in under-served regions. Through being registered as CBOs, these groups can access government and other organisational funds for income-generating projects.
The CORPs also assist in creating income-generating projects in collaboration with their support groups, such as:
Such activities can go far beyond addressing healthcare issues; they can build leadership, management skills, and capacity - with the goal of becoming sustainable and empowered communities.
A Model for Sustainable Communities
CHAT's model of sustainability for communities adheres to the following steps and principles:
- Enter into previously under-served regions that have requested assistance for clinic services.
- Engage local communities using integrated mobile clinic options such as vehicle, camel, foot and bicycle delivery.
- Educate and motivate indigenous Community Own Resource Persons (CORPs) and healthcare workers.
- Empower communities towards self-sustainable healthcare.
- Enhance the well-being of previously marginalized and disadvantaged communities.
- Exit once a framework of strong human and institutional capacity is in place with good management and leadership capability.