Conference Overview

The 2019 REGIONAL Global Health Practitioner Conference on October 14-16 in Nairobi, Kenya welcomed 253 implementers, academics, donors, private sector, and other community health advocates from over 21 countries representing over 108 organizations. GHPC Kenya was CORE Group’s first regional conference convening stakeholders under the following objectives:

  1. Leverage community voices and experiences of frontline health workers, community health workers, community nurses, and other service delivery providers to help identify the kinds and levels of services needed;
  2. Link individuals, organizations, governments, United Nations, donors, private sector, and many other key players both inside and outside the community towards addressing social determinants of health and ensuring everyone works together for improved health outcomes and breaking down silos; and
  3. Learn about best practices and innovative approaches in community health within national and local health systems, as well as consortium building and technical capacity building with strategic focus for improved community health.

The multi-day conference focused on enabling stakeholders to share progress and identify solutions to persistent community health challenges; strengthening the role of community health workers in line with the Sustainable Development Goals and Universal Health Coverage; and informing global, national and local policies and plans through evidence, success, and adaptive learning.

Agenda At-a-Glance

Session Presentations: Monday | Wednesday

New Information Circuits | Poster Session

Program Booklet | Conference Report (upcoming!)

Opening Remarks & Keynote Address


Welcome from CORE Group

Lisa M. Hilmi, Executive Director, CORE Group

Spotlight on Leverage, Link & Learn

Innocent Grant, Youth Leader and Clinician on Reproductive Health Promotion, Contraceptive Conversation; Margaret Nguhi, Head of Programs, Humanity & Inclusion Kenya; Nyawira Njeru, Director, Eastern Europe, Middle East & Africa, BD Global Health; Luidina Hailu, Communication Officer, The International Institute for Primary Health Care – Ethiopia; Ahmed Arale, Secretariat Director, CORE Group Polio Project Kenya and Horn of Africa; Mercy Juma, Broadcast Journalist, BBC Africa (Moderator)

Keynote Address

Prof. Miriam Were, Chancellor, Moi University

Opening Remarks

Dr. Rashid Aman, Chief Administrative Secretary, Ministry of Health Kenya

Introduced by Dr. Salim Hussein, Head, Department of Primary Health Care, Ministry of Health Kenya

Session Recording 

Concurrent Sessions – Leveraging Community Voices


Working with Young People to Achieve Universal Health Coverage Through Delivering a Responsive Adolescent Health Care System

PRESENTERS: Faith Opiyo, Center for Young Women Empowerment; Tamara Jonsson, HIVOS Regional SRHR Fund; Pauline Bridget Anyona, Organization of Africa Youth Kenya; Winfred Apio, Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum; Jeanne Patrick, Ministry of Health Uganda | MODERATOR: Patrick Mwesigye, Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum

We have an unprecedented opportunity to improve the health of adolescents and young people and to respond more effectively to their specific needs. The Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health and the AA-HA! Frameworks have identified adolescents as being central to achieving the SDGs and Universal Health Coverage (UHC). Today, UHC“ as a framework provides an opportunity for renewed attention to meeting the health-care needs of adolescents through the strengthening of health systems. Taking into account the unique needs of adolescents and young people, youths must be given an opportunity to meaningfully participate and influence decision-making processes that affect their health and well-being particularly Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights issues. Young people have to be brought on the table to share their specific experiences and to propose what works to create adolescent responsive health care systems. This session sought to provide a platform of intergenerational dialogue between young people, practitioners and policy makers.

Presentation_Introduction | Presentation_Apio | Video

Engaging Community Health Workers to End Violence Against Children

PRESENTERS: Mwivano Malimbwi, World Vision Tanzania; Linda Mdhune, World Vision Kenya; Nicholas Kiprono, Sego Community Health Unit | MODERATOR: Tom Davis, World Vision International

This session elevated the voices and experiences of CHWs on an issue that affects 1.7 billion children globally every year. It helped identify the kinds and levels of services needed to end violence against children, and the role that CHWs can play in this important issue. The session also allowed for a deep dive into participants’ views and opinions on the issue of CHWs and violence against children. Session participants had the opportunity to learn about and discuss the findings of a pathbreaking World Vision survey of CHWs’ perceptions and practices in dealing with violence against children. The survey ran in 2019 in four countries, reaching 412 CHWs.


Community-based Health Initiatives and Empowerment: Linkages and Prospects for Primary Health Care

PRESENTERS: Esther Njoroge-Muriithi, Smile Train; Eunice Wandia Mailu. Sightsavers Kenya; Andrew Mulwa, Makueni County Health Services; Francis Kalusa, Sightsavers Zambia; Gianaphina Mwende; Makueni County Community Health Volunteer | MODERATOR: Michael Gichangi, Ministry of Health Kenya

This session, organized in a participatory and interactive format, reflected upon and discuss the surgical care system; opportunities to leverage, integrate and implement surgical care programs at the community level, in a more strategic and collaborative approach. The session highlighted the role that organizations play in strengthening health systems for achievement of UHC by addressing gaps in accessing health services especially for neglected health conditions. Through engagement with local governments to ensure proper training, resources and staffing for CHWs, patients can be prepared and referred for essential but non-emergency facility level treatment by CHWs. In addition, those patients who have accessed surgery for cataract or cleft-lip and palate and as a result their livelihoods enhanced, do act as a source of motivation to others. These champions, when appropriately tapped play a key role in community health. Governments and health service delivery organizations must commit to supporting and empowering CHWs to serve this vital role, while ensuring a sufficient health workforce to also provide basic preventative and curative care at the community level.


Using Community Strategies to Improve Health Outcomes: A Case of Integrated Health and Nutrition Outreaches and Participatory Learning and Action Cycle

PRESENTERS: Irene Mugo, Food for the Hungry Kenya; Catherine Wamuyu, Save the Children Kenya

Food for the Hungry Kenya (FH Kenya) and Save the Children has been implementing community strategies in Marsabit and Busia Counties respectively. The two but complementary strategies are aimed at increased knowledge on maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) as well as increased access and demand for MNCH services. FH Kenya partners with the local government of Marsabit County in delivery of health and nutrition services to communities living in remote places, above 5 KMs away from the nearest health facility using integrated health and nutrition outreaches. This is a partnership that ensures government staff with required technical capacity, essential drugs and nutrition supplements are delivered to the communities that could have otherwise missed health care. Through this approach, malnourished children and women are identified and treated before onset of complications, thus preventing morbidity and mortality associated with malnutrition. It is also an avenue where pregnant and lactating women and care givers of children 0-5 years are educated on maternal infant and young child nutrition. Save the children on the other hand has been using participatory learning and action cycle (PLAC), an approach that improves knowledge on maternal and child health amongst women of child bearing age. 20 to 30 women are grouped together and they are taken through various topics such as exclusive breastfeeding, attendance of antenatal clinics, immunization, in a period of 6 weeks. The topics are taught by a female community volunteer who has been trained on basic community maternal and newborn health.

Presentation_Mugo | Presentation_Wamuyu

When Women Demand Better! Lessons Learned Addressing GBV in Haiti, Lesotho and Kenya

PRESENTERS: Jenelle Williams, Global Health Action; Lebohang Patricia Mothae, Christian Health Association of Lesotho

Gender-Based Violence (GBV) is defined as the psychological, economic, physical and sexual violence against women and girls. GBV is recognized as a significant contributing factor to increased rates of teenage pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, economic struggle, stigma, and marginalization of women and girls. In Haiti, according to the Ministry of Health (MSPP), 28% of women between the ages of 15 and 49 have been physically abused since the age of 15, In Lesotho, according to the 2013 Gender Links Violence against Women (VAW) baseline study, 86 percent of women in Lesotho have experienced some form of violence at least once in their lifetime. This session (1) discussed the root issues of GBV; (2) shared and discussed lessons learned in strengthening referral and case management systems for GBV; and (3) shared and discussed strategies to strengthen multisectoral networks of community members (particularly women and girls), civil society, faith communities, law enforcement in the fight against GBV. This was an interactive session of a combined panel and roundtable session where participants engaged, shared and participated in this critical issue.


New Information Circuits


Access New Information Circuit information here.

Concurrent Sessions – Linkages


Connecting Global to Local: A Knowledge Sharing Cafe with WHO and ECSA Tools and Resources

PRESENTERS: Vincent Otieno, AFIDEP; Gitau Mburu, WHO; Laura Raney, Family Planning 2020; Daisy Ruto, Jhpiego; Walter Odoch, ECSA-HC; Nelson Keyonzo, ExpandNet; Billy Njoroge, IntraHealth; Janet Muriuki, IntraHealth | MODERATOR: Ados May, WHO/IBP Initiative and Grace Nagendi, UNFPA

This session addressed the theme of local engagement and capacity building by being hosted jointly by WHO/IBP and a regional organization, ECSA-HC. The session linked partners with each other and make the linkage between global guidelines (through WHO) and local learning (through ECSA-HC). At the end of the session, participants gained a better understanding of important WHO Guidelines and resources supporting SRHR programming. They also became aware of local tools and resources supported by ECSA-HC and other local partners. Participants made new contacts and be encouraged to share how newly learned knowledge will be incorporated into country and regional level programming.


Delivering Acute Malnutrition Treatment Through Low-literate iCCM Community Health Workers: A Multi-Country Initiative to Build Evidence for the Integrated Approach and Accelerate Policy Change

PRESENTERS: Barnabas Mbele John Yeke, International Rescue Committee; Olusola Oresanya, Malaria Consortium Nigeria; James Njiru, Save the Children; Leah Nyambura, Action Against Hunger Kenya | MODERATOR: Bethany Marron, International Rescue Committee

In this session, participants learned about an innovative approach to increase access and coverage for treatment of acute malnutrition, involving four agencies’ experience deploying a low-literacy toolkit and implementing and testing in 3 countries. Participants learned preliminary results from South Sudan and Nigeria and discussed how these results contributed to protocol development and iteration in subsequent contexts, including ongoing research in Kenya; what worked and what did not work well. Participants shared their experience linking community health services, working with low-literate providers, and building an evidence base for community health innovations. Participants and presenters also discussed operational challenges and policy barriers to strengthening and/or expanding community health platforms as well as discuss ways to improve implementation of integrated community health programs and accelerate policy change.


Strengthening Systems for Health While Implementing Programs in the Humanitarian-Development Nexus

PRESENTERS: Sarah Ashraf, Save the Children; Dr. Edwin Mbugua Maina, Concern Worldwide; Denge Galgallo, Department of Health, County Government of Marsabit, Ministry of Health Kenya; Midina Doko, Department of Health, County Government of Marsabit, Ministry of Health Kenya | MODERATOR: Eric Sarriot, Save the Children

Even when well-planned interventions are designed and implemented with communities and Ministries of Health, there are fundamental challenges and unexpected consequences that are often exacerbated during emergency periods and the transition back to development settings. Health system strengthening along a continuum of humanitarian and development contexts requires adaptive, multidisciplinary approaches yet this “nexus” is not always straightforward and its difficult to ascertain what to do and when. In some instances, implementation consequences can leave the health system in a weaker position once the emergency subsides making the transition back to more stable, development settings a challenge. Moreover, frequent and recurring “gap filling” by iNGOs during emergencies is counterintuitive to system strengthening principles and erodes longer-term development goals. This session featured first-hand perspectives from a frontline community health worker, Ministry of Health-Kenya, and Concern Worldwide on efforts to improve community health in a setting that oscillates between development and emergencies contexts. The discussion focused on how this strategy has been contextualized to the unique and marginalized Arid and Semi Arid Lands in Northern Kenya and what needs to be done differently if Kenya is going to meet the SDGs and make strides toward achieving UHC. Save the Children presented evidence and shared lessons from Sudan and Pakistan on health system strengthening in fragile settings. Findings and the subsequent discussion were geared toward advancing practitioner knowledge and skills on making calculated and appropriate decisions to advance health systems despite fragile settings.

Presentation_Concern Worldwide | Presentation_Save the Children

A Holistic Approach to Engaging Communities in the Enhanced Utilization, Evaluation and Financing of Sustainable Reproductive and Maternal Health Interventions

PRESENTERS: Dr. Carol Ngunu-Gituathi, Nairobi City County Government; Elizabeth Omondi, Amref Health Africa; Felix Makasanda, Amref Health Africa; Carol Ajema, Afya Halisi, Jhpiego | MODERATOR: Morine Sirera, The Challenge Initiative, East Africa, Jphiego

This session highlighted gender related barriers to access and utilization of family planning, antenatal care and skilled birth attendance. Evidence demonstrates that existing cultural barriers contribute significantly to poor reproductive health outcomes, despite various financing initiatives rolled out in Kenya to incentivize pregnant women and girls to access RH services from skilled providers within the health sector. This session presented findings from approaches implemented at the community-level with the aim of enhancing community led follow up and participatory evaluation of services offered to pregnant women and girls. The panel shared evidence of approaches that have been used to (i) involve the community in evaluating the quality of services, and (ii) leverage Governments initiatives towards the implementation of quality, scalable and sustainable FP interventions in Sub Saharan Africa.

Presentation_Welcome | Presentation_Ajema | Presentation_Ngunu-Gituathi

An Integrated Maternal Mental Health and Early Childhood Development Program in Kenya & Ghana: Multi-Stakeholder Perspectives on Implementation and Evaluation

PRESENTERS: Elizabeth Omondi, Amref Health Africa; Sr. Paulin Acayo, Catholic Relief Services East African Regional Office; Sr. Rose Nancy Ghati, Franciscan Sisters of St. Anna; Adam Haliq, Catholic Relief Services, Ghana | MODERATOR: Tobias Opiyo, Catholic Relief Services Kenya

Maternal depression impacts both the mother’s health as well as potentially her child’s health via impaired maternal ability to be sensitive and responsive to her child needs thus lowering maternal self-efficacy which predicts poor child social-emotional and cognitive outcomes. Good mental health is critical for caregivers to recognize their young child’s needs and respond appropriately while managing their own personal emotions and experiences. Maternal depression therefore pauses a barrier in their ability to be present to effectively support their child’s optimal development. The prevalence of common perinatal and postnatal mental disorders – including depression, anxiety and adjustment disorders is high in resource constrained low and middle-income countries including Kenya (WHO, 2018). Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and Duke University are implementing a longitudinal study to assess the impact of the Integrated Mothers and Babies Course & Early Childhood Development (iMBC/ECD) intervention on the mental wellbeing of mothers of young children and their children’s social-emotional development in Kenya and Ghana. The goal of the research is to join government’s ECD taskforces at national levels to share iMBC/ECD intervention best practices and lessons learned, and main outcomes to influence national ECD policy and guidelines on maternal well-being and ECD, possibly scale-up the iMBC tools and interventions. This session provided a detailed look at the study.


Resource Launch


Impact, Innovation and Inclusion of Civil Society Organizations in Polio Eradication: The CORE Group Polio Story

The CORE Group Polio Project team celebrated the release of its 13-article supplement entitled, “Impact, Innovation and Inclusion of Civil Society Organizations
in Polio Eradication: The CORE Group Polio Project Story.” The series of articles highlights the importance of community engagement and community ownership as well as the critical supporting role played by civil society. Authors from India, Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Sudan, Kenya and Somalia were on hand to showcase the CGPP’s work with frontline community volunteers, mobilizers and health workers who engage with local communities to
effectively reach every home to register pregnant women and newborns, identify unimmunized children, raise awareness about AFP and disease surveillance, and promote polio and other immunizations. You will hear about
the innovative strategies and tools developed by the CGPP which have relevance for control of other important diseases; each article emphasizes the strong sub-theme of replication and adaptation to other community health
initiatives – long after the eradication of polio.

Session Recording (upcoming!)

Access the Resource here.

Poster Session & Professional Networking


Access the Posters here.