Happy New Year from Kenya! The Healthcare team reconvened after a restful Christmas break full of enthusiasm and hope for the year ahead. We began by reflecting on the achievements of the past year that included scaling to a new division, launching our social marketing program and helping to stop a measles outbreak. But don’t fear, we didn’t rest on our laurels for long! 2013 will see the Healthcare program scale to two new divisions, run four social marketing campaigns and introduce mobile phone technology. We have no time to lose!

The New Year has also brought some new challenges. The nationwide nurses strike has caused significant interruption to healthcare services, particularly in rural areas. Some of the nurses in charge have been treating the seriously ill but the service is patchy and unreliable. The importance of simple, preventative healthy behaviors are more important than ever. The Healthcare Field Officers (FOs) have been doing a great job connecting people in need of treatment to clinics and health facilities that are open. One great story that emerged was that one FO, Magaigwa Wagesa, came across a pregnant woman in labor. The FO was able to contact the nurse in charge at the local clinic who arranged for a government-funded motorcycle to transport the pregnant woman to the clinic. The mother delivered a healthy baby without any complications. Hongera sana! (Congratulations in Kiswahili!)

The Social Marketing team immediately turned their attention to the issue of Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease (MLND) that has the potential to threaten maize crops and livelihoods in Kuria West. One of the strengths of the integrated Nuru program model is that it allows for skills sharing to support other programs areas. The social marketing strategy in particular has the potential to inform much of Nuru’s work beyond the Healthcare program and this campaign will be run in close collaboration with the Agriculture program. The Agriculture team is busy issuing seeds and fertilizer to farmers, while the Social Marketing team conducts focus group discussions with key informant farmer groups in the community. Our aim is to analyze the barriers and benefits that will help the farmers adopt the behaviours necessary to stop and prevent the spread of MLND. The team is already putting some of what they learned during the November Barrier Analysis training into action and we will soon be out campaigning across the communities in which Nuru works.

2013 is going to be an exciting year for Nuru Healthcare. We will continue to scale, to improve our home visits and marketing campaigns, sell more products that will help prevent health problems, and influence more people to adopt healthy behaviours. Check back regularly to hear more about the life saving work that is happening in Nuru’s Healthcare Program.