Breaking stigmas: women leading health projects in vulnerable areas

Breaking stigmas: women leading health projects in vulnerable areas

  • In its international cooperation programmes, the foundation promotes the empowerment of women in positions of responsibility in the field of health.

In the context of the recent International Women's Day, Fundación Probitas reaffirms its commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and, specifically, to number 5, which focuses on achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls.

Since 2018, the foundation has been developing health promotion programmes in a remote area of northern Kenya inhabited by the Pokot ethnic group with a high prevalence of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs). The programme is developed in collaboration with the local NGO Kaperur CBO and the health authorities in the area.

In the implementation of these programmes, the role of women from the Pokot communities who have become pioneers in occupying positions of responsibility in the health field stands out. To this end, they have had to overcome many social and cultural obstacles to get trained and are now a reference for many other girls and women in their surroundings.

Jane Akeno, Community Health Volunteer (CHV) is a leader in her community and is respected for playing a key role in health and hygiene education and awareness in the villages. This work has been made possible after she was the first Pokot health volunteer to be trained in NTDs as part of the programme with Kaperur.

On the other hand, Dr. Elizabeth Chebet's story features the second Pokot woman to graduate in medicine in Cuba and the first to return to her community to serve. In just one year, she rose through the ranks to become the first woman medical superintendent of the Chemolingot Sub-County Hospital. Chembet has become an example of the opportunities and doors that education can open for girls in this community.

At the highest level of health care in Kenya is also a Pokot woman, the Hon. Mary Chebet Panga. She was the first Pokot woman in Tiaty County to graduate with a degree in nursing and subsequently the first to be appointed County Executive Member of Health Services, the highest authority in the Kenyan Ministry of Health. Panga is also a great advocator for the rights of Pokot women and for improving access to maternal and child health services.

For Fundación Probitas, it is essential to have the collaboration of the national health systems of the countries in which it develops its programmes in order to guarantee their sustainability. In the case of Kenya, Panga plays a key role in the work of Probitas and Kaperur to improve the management of some neglected diseases. 

All of them are Pokot women empowered through training with whom Fundación Probitas has the opportunity to collaborate through the NGO Kaperur. Probitas would therefore like to thank them for the importance of their role and dedication in facing circumstances and using the training opportunities they have had to contribute to improve the quality of life in their community.