Local volunteer in Nangarhar ensure community access to health services during COVID-19

Community volunteers monitor a health facility in Nangarhar during covid19

 

Char Bagh-e-Safa Health Center at Surkhroad District in eastern Nangarhar province was closed to local residents until a local integrity volunteer recently visited the health center during the month of May 2020 after the COVID-19 outbreak. Farhad Ibrahimkhail, the volunteer found that the center’s Out Patients Department section was not operational and was closed to local residents. The local people in the area expressed their great concerns over this issue. One local resident said, “We don’t even have access to basic health facilities at present and now we have to live with the fear of COVID-19, but with an unapproachable health facility in our area.

After identifying the problem, the volunteer backed by the local community and supported by Integrity Watch, shared the issue with officials at this particular health center. The health workers of the center expressed their concern over the spread of the coronavirus, one of them stating, “The Department of Public Health has not provided us with the special precautionary equipment, for example with personal protective equipment kits, to prevent us contracting the virus.” They also expressed their concern over patients’ lack of respect for social distancing practices when entering the center.

To address the problem, the local volunteer shared the problem with the community members and local elders to obtain their viewpoints. After these meetings, Integrity Watch’s provincial staff along with representatives of the community arranged a meeting with the Deputy Director of Provincial Public Health Directorate to discuss the possibility of providing personal protection equipment kits to this health center. After some useful discussions during the meeting the Deputy Director promised to respond to the problem by taking immediate action to resolve the issue.

Eventually, with close follow-up by Integrity Watch’s provincial staff and the community’s representatives, the issue has been completely resolved and the community are now benefiting from the services provided at this center.

Integrity Watch expanded its Community Based Monitoring of Health centers (CBM-H) to 170 health centers in five provinces. Integrity Watch plans to expand the program to an additional 130 health centers in eight additional provinces. The program works with local health councils and community representatives to monitor health services and to advocate for the problems identified. The program has had about 50% fix rate (half of the problems identified have resolved).