Improving the lives of Africans through policy relevant research: story of the HPS
On 7th and 9th July the Health Promoting Schools (HPS) Program made donations worth $ 6,000 to 10 control primary schools in Korogocho and Viwandani informal settlements. The HPS project was initiated in 2008 by Ms Osnat Keidar, a visiting researcher from Israel. The health promotion program targeted both informal settlements where Korogocho was the intervention site and Viwandani was used as the control site after initial findings of the research study revealed that most children living in these informal settlements experience high rates of infant mortality and morbidity as a result of the poor water and sanitation facilities in their environment. This intervention seeks to build the capacity of the primary schools and the community infrastructure in Korogocho to promote health using personal hygiene- particularly hand washing as an entry point. The program also promotes healthy behaviors in the schools by integrating health in the curriculum, training teachers, parents board members on health promotion, supporting health clubs, airing health messages through drama, media and community barazas and providing soap, water points and toilet facilities.
|Parents, teachers and students from the HPS project schools pose with APHRC staff in Viwandani after receiving various donations courtesy of the HPS program.|
In the short span of time that the Health promoting schools program has been ongoing in Korogocho the residents have benefited from various life changing interventions like construction of toilets, water tanks, sanitation center, waste management center, and water harvesting systems and training of community health champions. In the primary schools pupils have been taught basic hygienic practices like washing of hands after visiting toilets and before eating food and remarkably, the number of pupils missing out on school time due to diarrhea and other water borne diseases has drastically reduced. The program has also been using various methods to get its message across, like the use of the community radio - Koch Fm to pass messages to the community members, organizing sports events, use of puppetry to pass on health messages as well as holding community parades around the community.
During a recent ceremony to officially handover books in Korogocho ,Ms Osnat Keidar stated that the program was moulded after APHRC�s vision of carrying out research that makes impact to the lives of the people. APHRC scientists continue to strive to ensure that the members of the communities in which research is carried out benefit by seeking partners who can support some of the community needs that require such interventions. Osnat who is departing for Israel informed the community members that interventions by APHRC will continue in the slums saying �We are not saying goodbye, but rather saying see you again! all the good work being done by APHRC in this area will continue�.
Head teachers, parents and students attending the handover ceremonies testified to the fact that the HPS program had greatly improved their children�s health and the general standards of living within the community. Mr Paul Mwita, the headmaster of Cana Kings Primary schools which had received a donation of text books worth KSh 20,000 and a food donation worth KSh 25,000 appreciatively reflects on the beginnings of the HPS program in Viwandani �initially we were very reluctant when this research began because on several occasions individuals come and carry out research studies and then disappear! But this research study by Mama Osnat has surprised us because we have never seen any other research program that has been as beneficial to us such as this�. Notably the HPS program has ensured that all the schools that have received donations in their pre-identified areas of need.