Queen John, a CHS-supported HIV Testing Services Counsellor at Mwingi Sub- County Hospital in Kitui County politely welcomes clients into the waiting bay. Her warm nature and calm demeanour is probably the reason behind the smiles plastered on the faces of those queuing to see her for a counselling and testing session.
Six years ago, when pregnant with her first child, Queen walked in to this facility to attend an Antenatal Clinic (ANC) session. Knowing her HIV status, Queen was determined to do everything in her power to ensure that the child she was carrying would be safe and HIV free. It was then that she met Francisca Mutile, a CHS PMTCT Officer, who was then a Clinician at the hospital. “Francisca counselled me and took great care of me even after I gave birth. I was very happy when my child was confirmed to be HIV free,” said Queen.
Because of the great service and counselling she received during her pregnancy, Queen continuously talked to Francisca about possible ways through which she could be of assistance in helping HIV positive individuals to accept their status, gain knowledge about HIV and commit towards living a healthy life.
An opportunity presented itself in 2013.
“The number of clients at the hospital was growing and we only had one mentor mother. It was then that I remembered Queen’s interest in helping out at the facility,” said Francisca. Queen went through the requisite two-week training where she learned how to: encourage patients, patient confidentiality, healthy eating, patient care among others, and became a mentor mother at the facility.
After three years of serving as a mentor mother, Queen went back to school where she received training in HIV Testing and Counselling Services and thereafter became a HTS Counsellor at the facility where she continues to serve to date. “CHS started supporting this facility in October 2016, interviews were conducted and she was retained at the facility as a CHS supported HTS Counsellor and she has continued to serve without fail. I am a proud mentor, “said Francisca.
“From my service as a mentor mother to a HTS Counsellor, what I do here is more than just a job; it is a passion and I purpose to continuously mentor others just as I was mentored,” said Queen. She plans to go back to school to pursue a degree in counselling and psychology.
CHS strengthens human resource capacity by supplementing the existing health workforce with different cadres of health care workers to bridge the human resource gap. With funding from the US President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Kitui County is currently receiving support for 148 health care workers including 45 HTS Counsellors to the tune of US$755,118 through a CHS managed sub-grant.