A five-day basic health skills training, level 3, was conducted for community health workers (CHWs) of SitioSawsawan, Barangay San Roque, Talisay City on July 5, 7, 8, 14, 15, 2017 and for CHWs of PurokTambis, Umapad on July 27, 28, 29, August 4, 5, 2017.
The BHST is part of the project, “Sustaining community-based health programs to promote health and prevent disease in Cebu,” supported by the Committee of German Doctors for Developing Countries.
The first topic was CHWs as effective agents of behavior change. The topic enhanced their skills during visits to families to provide education and counseling on healthy behaviors to prevent disease. The CHWs were taught how to better listen to the members of the household, particularly the caregivers, assess their needs and level of understanding, \and then tailor the counseling messages to most effectively encourage healthy decision-making and healthy behaviors. Important communication techniques to develop a good relationship with the family and deliver counseling messages effectively were also taught during the training.
The second topic was nutrition. Although this was already taken up in BHST 1 in the early part of the first year of the project, based on evaluation with the CHWs, it was necessary to review this topic again so that CHWs can better ensure that all households understand the importance of proper nutrition for growing children, and must be able to counsel households on the nutritional needs of children. The CHWs will be able to assess whether children in a household are eating the right food to fuel their growth and health, as well as counsel caregivers on the nutritional needs of their children.
The third topic was growth monitoring. This was also taken up during the first training. However, based on the evaluation, CHWs need to enhance their skills to monitor growth routinely, detect malnutrition, promote proper nutrition, and prevent long-term consequences for the child’s health and well-being. The CHWs were trained to read growth charts, identify whether a child was stunted, wasted, or underweight as the three forms of malnutrition, and to counsel caretakers on proper nutrition.
The fourth topic was proper sanitation and environmental sanitation. This was seen as a need to be included in the training since it was observed that not all households practice this. CHWs need to enhance their skills on how to advise household members that simple measures can prevent them from accidentally ingesting feces: using an improved sanitation facility, disposing of children’s feces safely, proper management of solid waste, household water treatment and safe storage, and frequent handwashing with soap. CHWs have better skills to provide valuable counseling on disposing of children’s waste and maintaining a hygienic environment.
The fifth topic was management of cough for children under five years old. Although CHWs have been advising mothers with children on cough on taking herbal medicine and refer children with serious cough to medical doctors, they expressed the need to be able to better assess the severity of cough symptoms and identify serious degrees of respiratory symptoms that require a visit to the clinics. The CHWs will be able to communicate the necessary information to identify cough danger signs and understand when treatment at home is sufficient or when medical intervention is needed.
The sixth topic was management of diarrhea of children under five years old. The CHWs asked for his topic so that they be more effective in identifying the degree of severity in a child experiencing diarrhea, perform treatments, and provide recommendations appropriate for the degree of severity. The CHWs also needed to be more effective in communicating with the caregiver at all times, including engaging the caregiver in an active discussion on how to care for the child while he/she is experiencing diarrhea, as well as ways in which diarrhea may be prevented in the future.
The seventh topic was on management of diabetes mellitus. At present, the CHWs have been referring diabetic patients to the health center or the rolling clinics. The training equipped them with knowledge and skills to enable them to create awareness on how to recognize signs and symptoms of diabetes mellitus, to facilitate the prevention and control of the disease, to facilitate the treatment through referral to a health center, and to identify common complications.
The last topic was on cardiovascular diseases, to equip the CHWs with the knowledge and skills to enable them to create awareness on the prevention of cardiovascular diseases with a special emphasis on hypertension. The CHWs will also be able to recognize signs and symptoms associated with common cardiovascular diseases, to facilitate appropriate referral and follow-up.