LVCT Health

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LVCT Health Prepares to Host Liverpool Community Health Change-Makers for a Learning Visit in Homa Bay, Kenya

Five Liverpool-based community and health ‘change-makers’ will travel to Homa Bay County in Western Kenya in September. This learning exchange is facilitated by the Institute of Resilient Health Systems at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and LVCT Health, Kenya, and funded through the THET Global Health Workforce Programme. The ‘change-maker pairs’ from Liverpool and Homa Bay work in various roles, from senior public health policymaking in local government to frontline community health and youth advocates. By matching them up with their counterparts, the exchange fosters collaborative relationships and harnesses the experience of each pair. The exchange programme aims to inspire change-maker pairs by developing a deeper understanding of each other’s contexts so that they can reflect on and change how things are done ‘back home’. Following the recent successful THET-funded visit of community health and public health leads from Homa Bay County to Liverpool in May 2024, Liverpool change-makers are preparing to reunite with their counterparts and friends in Homa Bay County,Kenya. During the recent Liverpool exchange, change-makers worked to reflect on their respective community health systems’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges. They discussed and shared learning together across each context, identifying the activities and outcomes needed to build healthy and equitable communities. Their shared vision sees the role of strong community and primary health care as a starting point for engaging with and serving the needs of their local populations. “We’re excited to host the team from Liverpool for this return exchange visit. The Kenya team found the visit to Liverpool exciting and worthwhile, with learning about Primary care networks as well as the strengths and challenges of the UK health system. Kenya has made a lot of progress in community health, and we look forward to showcasing it. The team will also get to see how the health system is structured and how the Homa Bay County team manages to navigate complexity to strengthen healthcare for the people. We hope they will enjoy our African hospitality during this visit to the lakeside,” said Dr Lilian Otiso, Executive Director, LVCT Health. The visit to Kenya is not just a learning opportunity, but a chance to immerse in the Kenyan approach to community health. Liverpool change-makers will have the privilege of meeting with Kenyan dignitaries, including the Permanent Secretary for Health, the Dean of Nairobi University Medical School, and the Governor for Homabay. They will also get to shadow their change-maker counterparts, observe community health in action, and visit a local health facility. The working sessions will enable each team to develop recommendations and a ‘strategy on a page’ for their local setting. Importantly, this visit will further strengthen relationships, all while enjoying the beautiful environment and hospitality in Homa Bay County.   “I am truly grateful for this opportunity to learn from the Homa Bay team and share my experiences. As part of a CIT (community innovation team), I have been working with key local partners to address health inequalities in our communities. This learning exchange program has been a transformative experience for me, and I am excited to bring back new insights and strategies to my work in Liverpool,”Dagmara Wojciechowicz, Manager of Merseyside Polonia.

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Kenya Unveils Ambitious New HIV Approach at Health Summit

The HIV Service Delivery Integration Summit opened today in Mombasa County, with a call for enhanced HIV/AIDS response through enhanced collaboration and innovative strategies. Hosted by the Ministry of Health through NASCOP, the week-long summit aims to align Kenya’s current HIV response with the broader universal health coverage (UHC) agenda. The event focuses on sharing key policy shifts towards integrating HIV service delivery and setting priority investments for its financing. In her virtual opening remarks, the Cabinet Secretary for Health Susan Nakhumicha highlighted the critical role of integrated healthcare in achieving  HIV epidemic control. The CS celebrated Kenya’s remarkable progress in reducing new HIV infections, HIV-related mortality, and mother-to-child transmission, as well as  improved access to life-saving treatment to over 1.4 million Kenyans living with HIV, attributing the success to strategic partnerships, legislative support and robust healthcare systems that the government has invested over the years. She commended implementing partners and healthcare professionals for their concerted efforts toward ending HIV and AIDS in Kenya. Speakers at the conference called for an urgent, patient-centered, and integrated approach to meeting the evolving health needs of people living with HIV (PLHIV) while ensuring access to comprehensive healthcare services, including mental health support and the management of non-communicable diseases for all. Nakhumicha highlighted the need for investments in local pharmaceutical manufacturing and digital health solutions, citing the Digital Health Act 2023 as crucial for fostering innovation and improving healthcare service delivery. She reiterated the government’s commitment to enhancing healthcare accessibility and quality through the new Social Health Authority (SHA) and urged PLHIV to register with the latest healthcare scheme for comprehensive care management. As a key partner in the ongoing summit, LVCT Health is dedicated to  facilitating universal access to equitable, integrated health services for vulnerable, marginalised and at-risk populations towards ending HIV, and GBV, including advancing sexual reproductive health services and mental health responses for healthier and empowered communities. The summit, themed “Reimagining the HIV response in the Health Sector”, is attended by national and county government representatives, local implementing partner organisations, communities and bilateral partners. The event marks a significant step towards achieving HIV epidemic control in Kenya.

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New principles to underpin equitable research partnerships in global health

Transboundary partners and Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine have co-developed seven principles that are fundamental to enabling equitable research partnerships. The careful co-development process through which the principles were developed has been published in a new paper in PLOS Global Public Health, co-authored by colleagues from both LVCT Health, a Kenyan healthcare NGO and LSTM. The principles are part of LSTM’s ongoing efforts to improve and undo harmful power structures that perpetuate inequities in global health partnerships. The summarised seven principles are: The co-development process involved an online survey and a series of interviews with a wide range of LSTM’s international partners. Findings were presented and discussed in a participatory workshop to co-develop the principles, which were refined and consulted on with stakeholders. This work then fed into the establishment of a Global Hubs and LSTM Council which is envisaged as a starting point for co-ordination of strategic exchange, mutual support and development between transboundary partners. The seven principles are incorporated into the Terms of Reference of the LSTM and Global Hubs Council, which involves representatives from CeSHHAR Zimbabwe, Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), LSTM, and the Malawi Liverpool Wellcome Programme. Professor Bertie Squire, Dean of Partnerships at LSTM, said: “It is essential that we amplify the perspectives of colleagues and organisations based in low-and-middle-income countries in the development of our global academic partnerships.  These seven principles are now at the core of the newly established LSTM & Global Hubs Council and they guide the way in which LSTM works within long-established collaborations with partners in Kenya, Malawi and Zimbabwe.  It is such a delight to see the process of co-development of these principles published in PLOS Global Public Health and I look forward to working on how to strengthen their influence more widely.” Dr Lilian Otiso, Executive Director at LVCT Health: “It was a pleasure to work with LSTM and other LMIC partners on this research to co-develop these principles. It is even more exciting to see LSTM already applying them as demonstrated in joint projects that we have with them where equitable partnerships are a core value and shared learning is practiced. I look forward to seeing the principles articulated further and forming a basis of learning for other global partnerships.”

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Liverpool Hosts Kenyan Community Health Leads in an Innovative Exchange Program with Homa Bay County

Community health and public health leads from Kenya and Liverpool are taking part in an innovative mutual exchange programme to learn and be inspired by each other’s work. Six ‘change-maker’ pairs – working in strategic and frontline community health roles in Liverpool and in Homabay County in western Kenya are taking part in an exchange, jointly hosted by Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) and LVCT Health in Kenya, which was launched in March and kicks off with a visit from the Kenyan delegation to Merseyside in May. The exchange, part of the UKAid funded THET Global Health Workforce Programme, will foster international relationships between local government teams working in community and primary healthcare. Through mutual learning and sharing, the programme will support the teams as they develop innovative workforce strategies in primary care and community health, to tackle health equity challenges in their own contexts. With over 2,500 community health promoters in Homa Bay County supporting pregnant women to access antenatal care, skilled delivery and childhood immunisations,  the county has a lot of expertise to share during the week-long visit. In Liverpool, community health programmes are increasingly including community champions to address rising health inequalities, but to date have only a handful of champions from local community organisations. The expansion of primary care networks in Kenya means the UK system is also of great interest to the Kenyan team. This exchange programme asks what Liverpool can learn from the Kenyan context and vice versa. “We are excited to welcome public and community health professionals from Homabay County in Kenya and here in Liverpool to LSTM for a week of learning and relationship building” The exchange programme, hosted by LSTM in the UK and by LVCT Health in Kenya, builds on their longstanding partnerships with Homabay County Government in Kenya and in Liverpool with Liverpool City Council. The Liverpool participants will visit Kenya in July this year. The pairs, made up of public health directors, primary care network clinical leads, community engagement workers, youth advocates and community organisations, will spend time shadowing each other, learning about each other’s healthcare challenges and visiting successful community health projects in both locations. Professor Miriam Taegtmeyer, Professor of Global Health at LSTM, said: “We are excited to welcome public and community health professionals from Homa Bay County in Kenya and here in Liverpool to LSTM for a week of learning and relationship building. By sharing best practice we can build a sustainable, international collaboration that can tackle health inequalities on a global scale.” Roselynn Omolloh, Homa Bay County Executive Committee Member for Health, said: “Community Health Practice is the base for the fulfilment and actualization of Universal Healthcare: It is not an alternative intervention, it is the solution to ensuring every homestead has access to Healthcare and Health information. This is the core of Service Delivery for Health in Homa Bay and in Kenya.” Cllr Harry Doyle, Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health, said: “We are delighted to be part of this exchange visit. “Liverpool has a long and proud track record in innovating in public health and we are pleased to be able to offer an insight into the work taking place in the city, as well as learning more from counterparts in Kenya.”

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LVCT Health along partners to host Adolescent Mental Health Summit

Nairobi,Kenya: Adolescent and young people’s mental health is an issue that has been front and centre lately. For many young individuals, this period can be both exhilarating and overwhelming, especially when compounded with adverse life events and societal pressures, which, if not checked, can lead to profound mental health challenges. Recognising the need to address the growing concern of adolescent and young people’s mental health, LVCT Health is taking a significant step by hosting the 1st Adolescent Mental Health Summit in Nairobi, Kenya. With the shared goal of ‘Improving Adolescent and Youth Mental Health’, this Summit is a testament to the power of collaboration. In partnership with Grassroot Soccer and the Department of Health, Nairobi County, and Mombasa County, it serves as a platform for dialogue, innovation, and advocacy for policy review and implementation. The one-day event will bring together over 300 delegates from more than 10 countries, including policymakers and civil society actors.  “We just want to make sure that everybody understands what mental health among this cohort is all about,” says Robert Kimathi, Youth Program Manager, LVCT Health, adding that the forum will provide an opportunity for young people to share their experiences and challenges with mental health alongside insights from youth advocates and mental health experts. The event will be a dynamic platform, featuring keynote speakers from distinguished guests and experts, the launch of the 1st Adolescent Mental Health Summit, engaging panel discussions, insightful exhibitions, and practical demonstrations. Moreover, participants will have the opportunity to review existing policies and contribute recommendations for improvements. “We are delighted to host this Summit, which reflects LVCT Health and collaborative partners’ commitment towards confronting mental health challenges among young people in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), where resources for mental health services are scarce, amplifying the burden on already vulnerable youth,” says Michelle Olouch, Program Officer, Policy, Advocacy and Rights at LVCT Health. The collaborative nature of this event is a large priority for the organisers, states Kimathi, “This is the first such Summit to be held in Kenya, and we are thrilled with the response we have already received. We hope for a positive outcome of the event, which will set a precedent for future collaborations and annual events and ultimately improve mental wellness and resilience among adolescents and young people.” Together, we aim to empower and promote access to mental health services to individuals, families and vulnerable and at-risk populations as outlined in our new strategic plan. For more information on the Summit, visit https://adolescentmentalhealthsummit.org/project.html.  

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Enhancing Healthy, Empowered and Productive Adolescent and Young People in Mombasa County

Mombasa County: USAID Stawisha Pwani collaborated with Mombasa County to develop and launch the second edition of the Mombasa Adolescents and Young People (AYP) Strategy 2024-2029.  The Strategy aims to address adolescents’ and young people’s (10 and 24 years) health needs and to promote a healthy transition to adulthood while advocating for meaningful youth engagement in decision-making. The event was graced by Abdallah Daleno, Chief Officer of Public Health and Disease Prevention, alongside other prominent leaders, partners, and youth representatives from across the County. The Chief Officer commended the Strategy and urged for its successful implementation over the next five years, stressing the importance of collaborative efforts among stakeholders from various sectors to ensure the fulfilment of adolescents and young people’s needs and the protection of their rights. The development of the Strategy was led by the Adolescent Health Technical Working Group, comprising members from the County Health Management Team, Sub-County Management Teams, partner organizations, youth representatives from Mombasa Youth Advisory Champions of Health (YACH), youth-led organizations, and civil society groups across all county wards. Adolescents and young people aged 10 to 24 account for over 29% of the population in Mombasa County. Their health and well-being are critical to the development of the County. Evidence has demonstrated that this population also contributes significantly to new HIV infections and STIs. The 2024-2029 Strategy builds upon its predecessor (2018-2023), incorporating measures for reporting and addressing gender-based violence affecting adolescents and young people. Additionally, it integrates evidence-based mental health interventions like MindSKILLZ within the County’s framework. The Strategy seeks to enhance the health and well-being of AYP, considering diversities such as key populations, gender and sexual minorities, vulnerable and marginalized groups, and special populations. It envisions a healthy, empowered, and productive AYP with a mission to provide leadership and an enabling environment for implementing evidence-based health services. USAID Stawisha Pwani project is a leading partner in the health provision in Mombasa County. The project will continue engaging with the young people in Mombasa County to champion the implementation of the Strategy.  

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Partnership For Sustainable Health Systems

LVCT Health’s Vukisha95 project leadership signed a sub-grant agreement with the Health Department of Homa Bay County as part of our support and partnership in strengthening health systems to enhance HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis prevention, care, and treatment services in the County. The MoU was signed between Hon. Roselynne Omolloh, County Executive Committee Member for Health, Dr. Kevin Osuri, Chief Officer for Health and Dr. Michael Audo, Project Director, Vukisha95,  in the presence of Dr. Lilian Otiso, Executive Director, LVCT Health. The agreement signifies LVCT Health’s continued contribution towards the County’s Health and HIV strategic plans to expand services at the community and facility levels and progress towards universal access to high-quality HIV prevention, care, and treatment services. The agreement further outlines the in-kind contributions provided by LVCT Health in support of HIV service delivery activities in the County. LVCT Health supports the Human Resources for Health (HRH) employed by the County to perform duties related to HIV Prevention, Care, and Treatment of Persons Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) and Voluntary Male Medical Circumcision (VMMC). These responsibilities are carried out within Comprehensive Care Centers, TB Clinics, Mother-Child Health (MCH) Clinics, Medical Laboratories, health records offices, and Key Population Drop-in Centers (DiCEs) integrated with Ministry of Health facilities. LVCT Health’s Vukisha95 project has sub-granted the Homa Bay County Health Department to support 971 healthcare workers through the Human Resources for Health (HRH) program. This initiative aligns with the journey towards self-reliance, aiming for a seamless transition of HIV and TB services to the County. The goal is to ensure that HIV and TB management becomes County-owned, County-led, and County-funded, ultimately achieving sustainability, self-reliance, and improved health outcomes.

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An Investment Conference to Unlock the Bay of Endless Potential

LVCT Health is delighted to have participated in the second Homa Bay County International Investment Conference dubbed (HOBIIC 2024) in Tom Mboya University grounds in Homa Bay County. The investment conference showcased bankable investment opportunities and provided a platform for interaction and sharing of investment ideas that will lead to strategic partnerships. Additionally, the Homa Bay County International Investment Conference unveiled investment opportunities that are available in diverse sectors within the County and opened up the County for wealth creation. The investment conference sought increased business linkages and collaborations. During the conference, LVCT Health’s Vukisha95 team showcased its transformative approach to utilizing Cloud technology to improve efficiency and accessibility, scalability, cost savings, integration, and collaboration within the healthcare setup. The team also showcased optical technology, one of the economic empowerment interventions that targets Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) as part of a comprehensive HIV prevention programming that accelerates gains towards reducing economic vulnerabilities and promoting safer income options for the highly vulnerable population. 

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LVCT Health Hosts Learning Visit for USAID-Supported African Countries

Early this year, LVCT Health, through the USAID Stawisha Project, was honoured to host a delegation from eight USAID African countries: Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Zambia, Burundi, Botswana, Mozambique and Nigeria for a learning visit on our Medically Assisted Therapy (MAT) project targeting People who inject/use drugs in Kilifi and Mombasa counties. During their visit, the team visited the health department offices of Mombasa and Kilifi counties, as well as several MAT clinics, including MEWA, KISAUNI, Reach Out Centre in Mombasa, and Malindi MAT and Watamu MAT in Kilifi, where they had a first-hand experience on how the county governments and local implementing partners collaborate in reaching the recovering drug users. In Kilifi County, the delegates were briefed on the strategies employed during the initial phase of preparation and induction into methadone treatment and how challenges were managed. They were oriented on the service delivery process in MAT clinics and the roles of each staff member. The team later met with representatives from the Ministry of Health, Kenya Police, and the Judiciary to understand their contribution to the program, including best practices in initiating and strengthening Harm Reduction and MAT programs in their respective countries. With support from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the USAID Kenya, LVCT Health is working with the two counties (Mombasa and Kilifi) departments health, community-based organisations and local government agencies to support the successful implementation of MAT integrated health services delivery model and subsequently improve the quality of health and lives for People who inject drugs (PWID) through provision of tailor-made HIV and TB prevention and treatment programs and helping them recover from addiction. This visit not only facilitated knowledge exchange but also laid the groundwork for future collaborations aimed at enhancing the delivery of quality health services within the MAT program in the target counties and beyond.

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Creating Safer Environment for Children

In a significant stride towards fostering a safer environment for children, the Dhibiti Project recently organised a successful Child Protection Sensitization Training for Tingángá DREAMS facilitators, mentors, and change agents. The event marked a crucial step in equipping frontline workers with the knowledge and skills necessary to ensure the well-being of children within their communities. In collaboration with expert trainers, we developed a comprehensive curriculum covering various aspects of child protection, encompassing the identification of abuse, preventive strategies, and the legal framework surrounding child rights.  The training sought to empower facilitators, mentors, and change agents with the requisite tools to establish safe spaces for children. During the training, participants delved into the challenges encountered by children in their communities, gaining a deeper understanding during the training sessions. The sessions fostered open dialogue, allowing participants to exchange lived experiences, insights, and best practices in handling child protection issues. This heightened awareness is expected to lead to the establishment of more empathetic and responsive support systems for children. Additionally, the training served as a catalyst for building a robust network of advocates dedicated to child protection. Emerging from the training, facilitators, mentors, and change agents shared a commitment to championing children’s rights and serving as proactive agents of change within their communities. The training equipped participants with practical strategies for implementing child protection measures across diverse community settings. Through role-playing exercises and scenario-based discussions, participants honed their skills to address and prevent instances of child abuse. Visible Results Following the training, Tingángá DREAMS facilitators, mentors, and change agents have embraced their roles as community leaders. They now spearhead engagement initiatives, dispelling childhood protection myths and mobilising the community to safeguard every child’s well-being. Rachael Karanja, a Child Protection Officer in Kiambu County, emphasised the importance of children’s voices, stating, “Children deserve to be heard because they can express their emotions too.” She exemplified the diverse roles that Children Protection Volunteers (CPVs) play in protecting and upholding children’s rights. Over 50 individuals were trained and sensitised on child protection strategies and laws. The success story of the Child Protection Sensitization Training underscores LVCT Health’s steadfast commitment to nurturing empowered and resilient communities. As facilitators, mentors, and change agents continue to fulfil their roles as guardians, the Tingángá community experiences positive transformations, ensuring a brighter and safer future for its children. Through the Determined Resilient Empowered AIDS-free Mentored and Safe (DREAMS) program, LVCT Health’s Dhibiti project works to create enabling environments for AGYW to reach their fullest potential. DREAMS layers multiple interventions critical to keep them safe from HIV and teenage pregnancy, among other health and socio-economic risks.