Chamas for Change: Validating an integrated community-based strategy of peer support in pregnancy and infancy

Moi University College of Health Sciences
Organization Location: 
Eldoret, Kenya

Worldwide, women and children in poor and rural communities face the challenges of pregnancy and infancy without supports in the home, community, or facility. Often faced with financial, nutritional and political insecurities, the majority of women struggle to care for their own and their children’s health. To address this, we developed a peer-support model that groups pregnant women together in the same community to receive maternal and child health services, called Chama cha MamaToto (chamas). Central to our approach is the integration of health, social and financial literacy education with a savings/loans program. Through SL@B funding, we designed, implemented and evaluated this one-year intervention in Busia County. We analyzed data for 222 chama women and 115 matched controls who were pregnant, and found that chama women were 73% more likely to attend 4 recommended prenatal visits, 67% more likely to give birth in a health facility, 75% more likely to breastfeed exclusively to 6 months and 98% more likely to receive the recommended home visit from a CHW within 48hrs of birth. All of these outcomes were statistically significant (p<0.001). Having demonstrated feasibility and sustainability of the program beyond the period of funding, we now seek funding to validate the success of this intervention in a new site. Implementing chamas in a population of 800,000 over 2 years, we aim to decrease maternal (MMR), perinatal (PNR), and newborn (NMR) mortality rates by 30%.

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