Posts Tagged ‘volunteer’

Verona Kapagawani; Community AIDS Committee Chair

As promised, here is an interview with one of the Community Health Workers involved with the pilot in Malawi. Verona speaks on why she started volunteering, how the SMS program has changed her ability to care for patients, and what it means to be a healthcare volunteer.

Here are a few of the messages sent to the hospital by Verona, in the first weeks of the pilot:

AK has a problem of CCF; his medicine is finished, and he is getting a bit better.

AJ is on TB treatment, he is taking the drugs following instructions. He is improving. AM had swollen thighs but she is improving. She is taking drugs following instructions – the guardian is strict.

Adherence: TN is alright. He is taking the drugs following the instructions, he did not miss any day.

PT is very fine, working hard in the garden. He did not miss any day.

Ready for More


I was excited to hear that PC World picked up an article that Ken Banks (founder of kiwanja.net, and the man behind FrontlineSMS) wrote, titled, “Witnessing the Human Face of Mobile in Malawi.” If you’re interested, you can read it here.

We’re ready to expand a bit. We heard from every one of the CHWs in our pilot group (some, many times). In just a few days, we saw some tangible results. Here’s one example:

  1. Verona Kapagawani, who lives in TA Mavwere, alerted the hospital that a patient had run out of his meds.
  2. A nurse at the hospital, familiar with the patient, responded that he should fill his prescription (he has chronic congestive heart failure) as soon as possible.
  3. Verona responded, noting that she counseled the patient. He wasn’t feeling well enough to travel, so she came to the hospital to pick up his drugs.
  4. While chatting with the nurse, Verona charged her cell phone.

I ran into another CHW, Benedict Mgabe, at the hospital today. He’s the chairman of the Community AIDS Committee, and he’s texted me every day. With a smile on his face, he shook my hand and said, “This is a very good program! It is really helping us a lot.” Those short sentences confirmed that I want to have longer conversations with the CHWs, to gather their reactions.

We’re using the pilot group to contact the next wave of CHWs, another 10 volunteers, to be trained and given phones Monday morning. Above, you’ll see Alex (a nurse, who does most of the Home-Based Care community work) and Grace (who coordinates the ART program) using FrontlineSMS to text the group.

I had a long discussion with Dr. Mbeya, the medical director at St. Gabriel’s, about making very definitive links between the hospital and the CHWs’ activities. As the project grows over the next weeks, we’ll create guidelines for reporting and follow-up, based on the specific program. For example, the hospital has a lively prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) program, aimed at reducing vertical transmission of HIV. We’ll develop a protocol for utilizing the CHW network to follow up on mothers who’ve missed their appointments, and the CHWs will provide a link to the communities’ pregnant population.

I’d love to get some other perspectives on this.

Sending good wishes from Namitete.

Posted: June 28th, 2008
Categories: CHW Training, HIV/AIDS Care
Tags: , , , ,
Comments: 3 Comments.