Kenya to train 25,000 community health workers as part of REACH initiative

Kenya in partnership with the African Union has launched Resilient and Empowered African Community Health (REACH). REACH is a community health initiative that is geared towards boosting primary health care at the grassroots while targeting under-served populations.

In Kenya, REACH is being implemented through a partnership with the Government of Kenya through the Ministry of Health, Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) through Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS). The initiative has received its initial seed funding from Prudence Foundation, the community investment arm of Prudential plc in Asia and Africa, for the initial start-up of REACH activities in Kenya.

The programme, under the auspices of the African Union (AU) Member States is geared towards increasing Community Health Workers (CHWs) to over 2 million in the continent by the year 2029.

Under the first phase of the initiative, over 25,000 CHWs newly recruited in Kenya will be trained on community health and on the use of Community Health Promotion (CHP) kits and Electronic Community Health Information System (ECHIS) to strengthen monitoring and evaluation.

The Government of Kenya through the Ministry of Health has enlisted over 107,831 CHWs of whom 25,000 will be trained in the first phase, according to the REACH initiative partners.

Launched in October 2022, the REACH initiative is the embodiment of Africa’s resilience and health security, poised to enhance the community health workforce’s ability to deliver evidence-based health interventions. Kenya is among the 12 countries identified for initial support in the first phase of the initiative, signifying an important move towards integrating, institutionalizing, and sustaining CHWs within its health system.

Nakhumicha S. Wafula, Cabinet Secretary for Health, Ministry of Health Kenya said, “The REACH Initiative is our beacon of hope and aligns seamlessly with the Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA) and Afya Nyumbani, reinforcing our commitment to achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC). The government is determined to deepen health provision in the villages and communities by strengthening the human capital and skills in partnership with health sector stakeholders.”

H.E. Dr. Jean Kasea, Director General of the Africa CDC, stated, “Community health workers are instrumental in realizing health coverage and health security on our continent. The REACH programme is a testament to our heads of state’s vision, and it stands as a significant step towards the development of a resilient health system.”

Nick Holder, Deputy CEO of Prudential Africa, said, “The Prudence Foundation is dedicated to building resilience within communities against health risks. We are eager to collaborate with IFRC, Africa CDC, and the Ministry of Health to foster improved health outcomes in Kenya by scaling up a strengthened, people-centric, and integrated community health system and workforce.”

REACH will contribute to the development of country-driven support plans, aligning with Kenya’s health initiatives and ensuring accountability at all levels.

Kenyans will benefit from enhanced health service delivery in the coming years, with the initiative playing a critical role in improving access to primary healthcare services, particularly in remote and underserved areas. The REACH initiative will be integral to Kenya’s journey towards achieving universal health coverage.