HHI’s October 2016 Newsletter is here! We are excited to report that so much has happened in 2016. HHI is building partnerships and collaborating with the local health system in the Dominican Republic. Our work has yielded promising results. Read more here.
It all started when HHI recognized the need to make the connection between good health and emotional wellbeing. It needed to be done in a way that empowered each individual to see how they can begin to take control of their own health, with the help of local health care.
Because of this, in the month of August, Health Horizons International had a specific goal in respect to our project that is supported by the World Diabetes Foundation. We were focused on hosting a three day refresher course for 24 nurses from 22 primary health care levels in Puerto Plata. It was a great success.
We call this capacity building, as it helps to increase the reach and effectiveness of health care through partnership with the local network.
However, as we all know here in Dominican Republic, training is much more impactful when it’s fun, interactive and memorable.
During the three days of training, our training team covered topics such as the nurse’s role in the continual pursuit of better diabetes response and treatment. We also looked at risk factors, healthy eating, physical activity, and diabetes drug treatments. It was a very full three days!
However, one particular focus was on a special strategy that we have developed in Health Horizons International around the organization of unique support groups. These groups provide empowerment in diabetes and/or hypertensive education. The initiative is called “Happy and Healthy” (Sano y Feliz in Spanish) because it provides a unique way to support patients in behavior change through the implementation of support groups.
When people change their behaviors, they can change their outlook and understanding. This is best accomplished through community support.
Thus, this particular nurses’ refresher course focused on giving the nurses inspiration and strategies to implement Sano y Feliz.
Don’t worry, we made it memorable! As you can see by the picture below, they left our time together ready to go back and get started with Sano y Feliz.
Through dramatizations and interactive experiences, the nurses were able to see how to implement Sano y Feliz in their respective areas of work. After our training time together, the nurses now understand how to coordinate between the health center and the community, as well as the criteria the medical doctors need to have a patient participate in the new strategy.
Our goal is to set up 12 Sano y Feliz support groups within 12 primary health care centers in Puerto Plata.
Breaking New Ground in Diabetes Prevention, Detection, and Treatment Access in the Dominican Republic
HHI has been breaking new ground in the training of Community Health Workers (Promotores de Salud) on diabetes prevention, case detection and referral.
According to the International Diabetes Federation, 50% of all diabetes cases around the world go undiagnosed.
For people living in poverty, this often results in a long list of complications that can eventually end in death if left unchecked:
- heart disease
- renal failure
- vision loss and blindness
- amputations due to diabetic neuropathy
The case for “why” diabetes prevention, case detection and referral need to be tackled is very straightforward: to save lives.
The greater question was, “how?”
The answer to that comes through the vital link between Individuals and those who can help them get diagnosed and get treatment.
That person is the local Community Health Worker or Promotor de Salud.
This is why we have been so excited to be able to create the first-ever training manual on diabetes for Community Health Workers in the Dominican Republic!
For the first time, the Community Health Workers of the province of Puerto Plata are receiving training on diabetes. HHI, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health, has trained over 90 Community Health Workers on diabetes prevention, case detection and referral.
- At the municipal level in Montellano, where the HHI office is located, we are working with and training over 30 Community Health Workers.
- At the provincial level of Puerto Plata, we have now trained 60 Community Health Workers using the new manual.
Our manual serves as a guide for Community Health Workers to help people in theircommunities be able to get the help they may desperately need to manage a disease many are unaware they have. CHW’s have learned how to evaluate risk factors and give referrals.
All of this is done at the community level, within a context that people feel comfortable in as they learn how they can get help and treatment.
Since we have started training CHW’s, the numbers have spoken for themselves:
Trained Community Health Workers have successfully carried out risk factor detection in their communities, using a tool developed by the project, and are referring patients when appropriate (1,378 people assessed for risk factors so far).
The CHW’s we have trained are excited to learn and feel empowered to take this knowledge back to their communities. Their training is a combination of fun exercises, team building and knowledge and skill building.
The Community Health Workers believe in their communities and they want to be a resource to help people achieve health through the power of knowledge and understanding. Because of this, they commit themselves to the training wholeheartedly and it shows in their response.
The training manual has been a labor of love and we are proud of the product we have produced together with our partners. We are motivated by the dedication these Community Health Workers have demonstrate to us, and can’t wait to share more results!
The manual and trainings have been made possible through our two year joint partnership grant with the World Diabetes Foundation, Population Services International (PSI) and the Ministry of Public Health.