“We are their eyes and ears here on the ground, yet they do not appreciate us”—Factors influencing the performance of Kenyan community health volunteers working in urban informal settlements

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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This study explored factors that influence CHV performance in urban informal settlements (UIS) within Nairobi Kenya and ways in which CHVs can be supported to enhance their wellbeing and strengthen community strategies. The study was undertaken in two UIS within Nairobi County. Thirteen focus group discussions and three key informant interviews were conducted with a range of respondents. Various topics covering the design of the Community Health Strategy (CHS) and broader contextual factors that affect CHVs’ performance, were discussed and data analysed using a framework analysis approach. The key programme design factors identified as influencing the performance of CHVs working in UIS included: CHV recruitment; training; availability of supplies and resources; and remuneration of CHVs. Health system factors that influenced CHVs performance included: nature of relationship between healthcare workers at local referral facilities and community members; availability of services and perceived corruption at referral facilities; and CHV referral outside of the local health facility. Whereas the broader contextual factors that affected CHV performance included: demand for material or financial support; perceived corruption in community programmes; and neighbourhood insecurity. These findings suggest that CHVs working in UIS in Kenya face a myriad of challenges that impact their wellbeing and performance. Therefore, to enhance CHVs’ well-being and improve their performance, the following should be considered: adequate and timely remuneration for CHVs, appropriate holistic training, adequate supportive supervision, and ensuring a satisfactory supply of resources and supplies. Additionally, at the facility level, healthcare workers should be trained on appropriate and respectful relations with both the community and the CHVs, clarity of roles and scope of work, ensure availability of services, and safeguard against corrupt practices in public health facilities. Lastly, there’s a need for improved and adequate security measures at the community level, to ensure safety of CHVs as they undertake their roles.