Mwanyani, Kenya—During visits to the Kasuki family, Community Health Worker Regina Mutunga noticed a persistent illness in the oldest daughter. Concerned about the child’s health, she referred the family for HIV testing. The results were as she suspected—everyone but the middle child tested positive for HIV. Using her counselling skills, Regina referred the family to the local health facility at Mwanyani for treatment and continued to follow up with them.
Through home visits and outreach, Regina guided the couple in their later decision to have additional children, advising the mother on proper pre- and postnatal care to prevent mother-to-child transmission of the virus. As a result, the couple had two daughters who were both born HIV-free and have remained free of the virus.
But Regina’s commitment to care for the family didn’t end there.
As a Jhpiego-trained HIV Testing and Counselling Provider, Regina knew the importance of adhering to antiretroviral therapy (ART) to ensure a healthy life. She works at the Maatha Community Health Unit, which serves more than 2,700 people across 10 villages, including Mwanyani. Through her participation in the U.S. Agency for International Development-funded APHIAplus KAMILI project, Regina learned how to provide HIV testing and counselling services in the community and home visits.
So last year, when the Kasuki couple separated, and Kovulo, the couple’s son with HIV, moved with his mother and two younger sisters to Kitui County, Regina stayed in touch by mobile phone.
“As one of the households assigned to me, and a priority household for that matter, I used to visit them on a monthly basis to ensure continuity of medication,” says Regina. “Once the separation happened early this year and mother and children moved to Kitui County, I knew that my follow-up should not stop there. That’s when I resorted to my mobile phone.”
Through those calls, Regina learned that the family had stopped ART, partially due to financial strain. She immediately contacted Kovulo’s father to remind him of the necessity of adhering to the HIV treatment.
At Regina’s insistence, Mr. Kasuki moved Kovulo to Taita-Taveta County, where he currently works, and enrolled Kovulo in a hospital treatment program, so his son could receive the necessary health services to combat his HIV. Since then, Kovulo’s CD4 count (a measurement of infection-fighting white blood cells)has improved enough to allow him to be enrolled in a nursery school. Kovulo’s father continues his own HIV treatment as well.
And Regina continues to routinely check in by phone with Kovulo’s mother to ensure that she stays on her ART regimen.
By going above and beyond to ensure that people in her community receive the HIV treatments and services they need to stay healthy, Regina Mutunga exemplifies the positive impact that a dedicated community health worker can have on the health of a family and a community.