Since the Community Health Workers Project launched 18 months ago it has been a massive success, treating over 100 patients and carrying out 1200 home visits. The project is based on a unique model of peer interaction, meaning that the eight lovely workers, who are from Aida and Al Azza Camp, work delivering home visits to offer both medical and social support.
The workers work across the two camps to treat chronic illnesses, predominantly hypertension and diabetes, which are believed to be especially high in the camps because of the stress of living next to The Wall. There is no health clinic in either camp so the work that is being done is essential because it is treating people who previously would have had limited access to treatment.
Miriam, who recently graduated with an engineering degree and has been working as a community worker since the start of the programme describes how ‘they didn’t know how to tell if they had an illness or how to treat it, so the work we do is so important.’.
This programme is particularly exceptional because of its use of the home visit system which is something that is increasingly being recognised as a positive and alternative way to treat patients. This model has been especially effective in Aida and Al Azza camps because it addresses the illness being experienced whilst simultaneously offering a social support network.
The workers offer more than just medical advice and treatment, instead they are trying to pioneer a more holistic approach towards healthcare; giving recognition to social factors that influence health.
Miriam explains that as well as doing home visits in order to administer insulin or other medicine she offers advice on how to live a healthier lifestyle.
‘I help them to change their food and lifestyle. We organise activities teaching how to make a healthy breakfast, and how to eat better and we offer free medical days and free doctors to our patients.’ (Miriam)
Ashgan, another health worker in the Lajee Center explains to me that ‘Lifestyle is the most important thing alongside medicine. We have lots of patients who are older women who have diabetes; we host events where the women come to learn about healthy breakfast, we talk, we dance, we eat and we meet together.’.
It is through events like this that women who may previously have been isolated can meet with other women and learn about living a healthier lifestyle aswell as to talk about their problems. Ashgan says that you can really see the programme making a difference.
‘When the women see us they often tell us about why they are sad. We feel that we have a comfortable relationship and trust. They tell us that it is nice because they have met lots of other women in the camp.’
The work carried out by the Community Health Workers is so essential, and so far has been very successful. In the future it is likely it will continue to grow and serve more patients from Aida and Al Azza Camp. Not only are they saving lives but they are changing lifestyles and attitudes towards health as well. They are such a friendly and happy team it is great to see them bringing health and joy to both the camps.