Why Pathfinder Works in Kenya
Kenya has a long history of providing some of the most successful family planning programs in Africa. Despite Kenya’s significant track record with family planning services, one out of every four married women still report an unmet need for family planning. This unmet need for family planning results in demand for services and access to contraceptives, placing tremendous strain on government health systems. These systems are already stretched to meet the needs of the country's population of people living with HIV and AIDS, which is the fourth largest in the world.
Pathfinder has supported reproductive health and family planning work in Kenya since 1969. By working closely with nongovernmental and community-based organizations, government agencies, and public and private sector institutions, Pathfinder has reached some of Kenya’s poorest communities with reproductive health information and services, including contraceptives and counseling in maternal and child health care.
Recently, Pathfinder’s work in Kenya has responded to the country’s high rate of HIV infection, currently estimated at 6.3 percent among adults and at 8 percent among women. Today, Pathfinder integrates HIV and AIDS prevention and care with quality reproductive health and family planning activities, bringing health services to the most vulnerable women who are least likely to have access to quality care.
Evidence for Decision-Making
A key aspect of Pathfinder’s approach to systems’ strengthening is collecting evidence that enables public, private, and community partners to make informed health-related decisions. In Kenya, examples of the kinds of evidence Pathfinder collects range from “the number of counseling visits for family planning and reproductive health services” and “the number of households trained on village savings and loan activities” to “the number of clients with advanced HIV infection newly enrolled in antiretroviral therapy.” The following are results from Pathfinder's APHIAplus Nairobi-Coast project as of 2012:
- Established 167 community units, each of which includes 50 community health workers who support 1,000 households with essential services and information
- Surpassed both core prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV targets—186,035 women were provided with counseling and testing services during their initial antenatal care visit, and 8,009 pregnant women living with HIV received antiretrovirals.
- Reached more than 17,000 young people with information about gender-based violence, reproductive health, and HIV and AIDS through peer education and school sessions
Building Capacity, Strengthening Systems
Pathfinder works in close partnership with more than 250 NGOs, community-based organizations, government agencies, and public and private sector institutions to carry out health programming in Kenya. In the past year, Pathfinder has increased the capacity of health workers to provide quality health services while at the same strengthening the government’s community outreach strategy. By encouraging local ownership of project activities, data monitoring, and project evaluation, Pathfinder is supporting the long-term sustainability of integrated programming and services in the communities where we work.
Through the USAID-funded APHIAplus project, Pathfinder supports the development of sustainable health systems to ensure equitable access to a wide range of health services. The project builds capacity of managers, health care providers and community based health workers and provides technical assistance in continuous improvement of service delivery.
expanding our reach
Pathfinder believes in the importance of not only working within existing structures, but also in developing innovative approaches to reach more people. For example, Pathfinder has pioneered community efforts to identify and train male champions who promote family planning and campaign against gender-based violence.
To reach pregnant women and encourage them to attend antenatal clinics and deliver at the hospitals, Pathfinder is working with community health workers and traditional birth attendants to support expectant mothers as birth companions. Pathfinder also trains community health works to provide quality reproductive health and family planning services, including youth and male-friendly services.
Through our activities, Pathfinder is promoting sexual and reproductive health care among women, men, adolescents, as well as key populations such as orphaned and vulnerable children, men who have sex with men, intravenous drug users, and sex workers. The ultimate goal is to ensure access to readily accessible, equitable, and quality health services for all people in Kenya.
The APHIAplus (AIDS, Population and Health Integrated Assistance Plus) Nairobi-Coast program is a five-year flagship health services delivery program funded by USAID.
The HoPE project reduces threats to biodiversity conservation and ecosystem degradation in the Lake Victoria Basin while increasing access to family planning and sexual and reproductive health to improve maternal and child health in local communities.
This mHealth initiative, implemented in Nairobi, is supported by Dimagi and the Core Group along with funding from USAID through Pathfinder’s APHIA+ project.
Model households are a key aspect of the Health of People and Environment in the Lake Victoria Basin, an integrated Population, Health, and Environment project with sites in Kenya and Uganda.
Since the launch of the Health of People and Environment in the Lake Victoria Basin project, staff and partners have engaged key district, national, and regional health and environment officials in Kenya and Uganda.
Bussi Island is located in the Wakiso district, which suffers a deforestation rate of 86.7 percent. To promote hassle-free cooking and a healthy environment for women in their homes, the Health of People and Environment in the Lake Victoria Basin project introduced two types of energy-efficient smokeless stoves.
Under the USAID-funded APHIAplus Nairobi-Coast project, Pathfinder launched mHMtaani or “Mobile health for our communities” to promote healthier communities by using mobile technology to monitor and track the health of pregnant mothers.
The clinic teaches women the importance of “spacing” and offers a variety of options including cycle beads, condoms, pills, intrauterine devices and implants. Family planning methods, such as delaying and spacing out children, are among the most effective ways to better the lives of families and directly contribute to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals of reducing infant mortality and improving maternal health.