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Catholic Sisters in Kenya Launch Six-month COVID-19 Prevention, Vaccine Awareness Campaign

The logos of the Association of Sisterhoods of Kenya (AOSK) and the Hilton Foundation. Credit: Courtesy Photo

Catholic Sisters in Kenya have launched a six-month COVID-19 prevention and vaccine awareness campaign in view of encouraging community members to “get vaccinated and embrace other preventive measures” against the pandemic.

The Tuesday, August 3 virtual event organized by Association of Sisterhoods of Kenya (AOSK) is set to involve dozens of health facilities, which Catholic Sisters in Kenya manage, benefiting some 1,500 health care workers.

In a Press Release shared with ACI Africa following the August 3 virtual session that introduced the six-month initiative to the administrators of the targeted health facilities, AOSK leadership highlights the nature of the awareness campaign, which is being realized through a partnership with a U.S.-based Foundation.

“Through funding from the Hilton Foundation, 80 sister-run health facilities spread across the country will participate in this campaign with the goal to ensure Catholic Nuns champion for the realization of a COVID-19 free nation,” AOSK officials say about the advocacy initiative that “is expected to reach approximately 5 million community members with COVID-19 and vaccine information through various interventions.”

They add, “Approximately 1,500 front line health workers (including Sisters) will benefit from various training to build their capacity and knowledge on COVID-19 during the campaign period running from July and December 2021.”

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During the six-month advocacy period, Catholic Nuns involved in managing health facilities in Kenya are to be “empowered with information about COVID-19 and vaccines to disseminate to the communities they serve,” AOSK leadership says in the Press Release shared with ACI Africa.

Other objectives of the initiative include having members of communities in Kenya “embrace COVID-19 preventive measures and get vaccinated” and health facilities under the auspices of Catholic Sisters having “improved equipment and medical supplies.”

In the Press Release, AOSK Executive Secretary acknowledges efforts of Kenya’s Health Ministry in addressing COVID-19 pandemic and underscores the need for collaborative approaches.

“As AOSK, we applaud the Ministry of Health’s efforts in COVID-19 response and recognize that a successful war against the pandemic requires both public and private sector support in advocacy on the COVID-19 vaccine uptake, provision of essential medical supplies, provision of protective gears and behavior change communication,” Sr. Pasilisa Namikoye says.

The AOSK Executive Secretary adds, ‘‘Catholic sisters have always worked to improve and increase accessibility of basic healthcare to the most vulnerable in the communities. We would like to utilize our vast distribution across the country, direct engagement in the health sector and proximity to the masses to disseminate COVID-19 information to communities we serve and encourage vaccine uptake.”

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Through the initiative, online trainings have been envisaged, targeting frontline health personnel, including medical doctors, nurses, pharm and lab technicians, AOSK leadership says.

The virtual trainings, AOSK officials further say, are to focus “on COVID-19 prevention, control and home-based care, COVID-19 vaccine and administration.”

Other initiatives include “psycho-spiritual support forums to the workers and those affected by the pandemic” as well as the carrying out of “community outreach programs on COVID-19 vaccine awareness,” AOSK leadership says.

The training of health providers on the vaccine against COVID-19, prevention, control and home-based care of patients has also been envisaged alongside the procurement of “PPE kits, COVID-19 test kits, latex gloves, surgical masks, face shields, thermo guns, refilling oxygen cylinders and pulse oximeter (SPO machines),” AOSK officials have outlined.

Founded in 1962 and registered in Kenya under the Perpetual Succession Act, AOSK comprises over 160 member Congregations of Catholic Sisters spread across the 25 Kenyan Dioceses and involves in “community-based outreach programs as part of their robust pastoral works.”

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Catholic Sisters are part of the network of Catholic health facilities in Kenya that, according to AOSK leadership, currently comprises “65 hospitals, 90 health centers, and 300 Dispensaries with an approximate total of 5837 healthcare providers, of which over 300 are sisters-run while the rest are diocesan/parish run.”

“AOSK health networks are under the Catholic Health Commission of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB), and collaborates with the Ministry of Health to achieve the Government goal of ‘attaining equitable, affordable, accessible and quality health care for all,’” AOSK officials say in their Press Release shared with ACI Africa August 3.