Community health volunteer Gianaphina Mwende Nguta visits cleft lip patient Brighton Mueni at his home. Photo by: Will Swanson

MAKUENI COUNTY, Kenya — Gianaphina Mwende Nguta spends many of her days riding her motorbike around her village, checking in on the health of her neighbors. As a community health volunteer, she provides them with tips on nutrition and hygiene, refers them to the clinic or hospital, and gathers data, which she sends to the county government.

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“I take my motorbike and I just go around my households educating them,” Nguta said. She is responsible for 20 families.

Nguta also helps identify and refer patients for treatment of cleft palate since being trained in 2017 by Smile Train, a nonprofit organization that works with local medical professionals by providing training, funding, and resources to provide free cleft surgery and cleft care to children globally.

In hospitals that don’t have the capacity to perform the surgeries, the organization works to train and empower local medical professionals, often training and engaging community health volunteers to identify patients who need surgery. In-country, skilled surgeons perform the operations, while also training the local government health workers who will eventually take over this role.

Continue reading the full feature story on how Kenya is rolling out UHC — with a little help.

For a closer look at the innovative solutions designed to push for progress on universal health coverage around the globe, visit the Healthy Access series.

About the author

  • Sara Jerving

    Sara Jerving is Devex's East Africa Correspondent based in Nairobi. She is a reporter and producer, whose work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, Vice News, Bloomberg Businessweek, The Nation magazine, among others. Sara holds a master's degree in business and economic reporting from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism where she was a Lorana Sullivan fellow.