SC Johnson and Raid® have partnered with Society for Family Health Rwanda and the Rwanda Ministry of Health to provide official certification and livable wages to unofficial community health workers in Rwanda as part of ongoing commitment to eradicate malaria
RACINE, Wis., April 25, 2023 – Malaria is the seventh leading cause of death in Rwanda*, and an unexpected frontline of defense has emerged working to protect families and communities – it’s tens of thousands of local community members, oftentimes the majority being women. The work these caregivers take on has a dramatic impact on their communities, but often at the expense of their own economic growth. As they spend days, weeks and months caring for their communities, it becomes nearly impossible to secure consistent work to support their families.
SC Johnson, along with one of its leading insect control brand teams, Raid®, saw the paradox surrounding unofficial female community health workers in the region and partnered with the Society for Family Health Rwanda to create a Certified Care program. Certified Care is an educational program that trains and empowers women to become officially certified Community Health Workers – the front-line defense of detecting and treating malaria at a community level – and provides them with the ability to earn a living wage for something they’ve spent a lifetime doing for free: Care. By becoming certified Community Health Workers through Certified Care, women who have historically had to miss work to treat community members with malaria for free now have the ability to be hired for paying healthcare jobs in the region and earn an income for their work, allowing poverty cycles to be broken and careers to flourish.
“Through the extensive time SC Johnson teams have spent in the region, living and working alongside Rwandan caregivers, it was clear to us that the caregivers deserved to be recognized for their service to the community and enabled with more resources,” said Fisk Johnson, Chairman and CEO of SC Johnson. “These women perform lifesaving work every day, and as we look to expand Certified Care, it’s our hope that this program, developed out of a committed partnership between SC Johnson and Society for Family Health Rwanda, can create an example for other governments and partners to scale and help make a truly lasting impact across the world.”
Certified Care Hits an Important Milestone in the Fight to Eradicate Malaria
Today, on World Malaria Day, SC Johnson, alongside Raid® and Society for Family Health Rwanda, celebrates the official certification of 10,000 Community Health Workers through Certified Care to help in the fight to eradicate malaria in Rwanda and provide them with official, paying positions. Through the Certified Care program, Community Health Workers gain skills and knowledge in diagnosis and treatment across a variety of illnesses and diseases, care for their communities and build a career for the future.
“Working with SC Johnson and its Raid brand team to create this program highlights an often-overlooked side effect of the malaria epidemic and further provides equity to women who are disproportionally affected,” said Manasseh Gihana Wandera, Executive Director of Society for Family Health Rwanda. “These Community Health Workers know what needs to be done to help their communities as most have them have been doing this all their lives. Their contributions deserve to be recognized, and this certification allows for that to happen. They are heroes of their communities.”
In addition to over 10,000 people being certified through Certified Care since 2017, SC Johnson’s partnership with Society for Family Health Rwanda and the Rwanda Ministry of Health has led to the construction of nearly 70 health clinics across
Rwanda, which help address malaria along with other public health issues including HIV/AIDS, family planning, nutrition and access to clean water. Currently, Community Health Workers treat 55% of all malaria cases in Rwanda.
“In the past, when one of my family members had malaria, I would have to skip work to tend to them,” said Olive Mukandayisenga, Community Health Worker certified through the SC Johnson/Raid® Certified Care program. “Becoming certified for the work I’ve been doing and earning a livable wage now means I can maintain my family’s farm and keep my family happy and healthy, all while protecting myself and my future.”
Women Behind the Effort: Community Health Worker Stories
- Chantal’s Story: Chantal (44) lives in Nyanza District, Busoro sector, Munyinya Cell, which is in the Southern Province, and is married with five children between the ages of 13-23. She has been a Community Health Worker for 15 years and believes Community Health Workers are the first line of defense against maternal and newborn deaths in Rwanda. Chantal feels an immense amount of pride and joy when she treats a child or mother who has malaria and nurses them back to health. In addition to the lifesaving treatment the Certified Care program provides, Chantal also believes the program has reduced the number of illiterate women as a result of their program training, which helps improve reading and writing skills. The income Chantal has earned as a result of the Certified Care program has allowed her to buy sowing machines, train over 25 women on how to use these machines and open a women’s clothing store.
- Olive’s Story: Olive (48) lives in Nyanza district, Busoro sector, which is in the Southern Province, and is married with five children between the ages of 15-27. She has been treating people in her community for over 23 years and was selected to become a Community Health Worker because she was easily approachable by adults and children alike. Olive lives in a swampy area and malaria is a consistent occurrence and challenge for the community. Olive has experienced this firsthand with her son. Now 20 years old, her son has had malaria several times starting from the age of seven months – sometimes getting malaria as often as three times a month. The rate at which he contracted malaria affected his growth and caused him to become malnourished, and prevented Olive from working on her farm. This personal experience motivates Olive, who now tests and treats children for malaria. She believes the Certified Care program increased her capacity to provide care to her community and family while maintaining her farm, and helps prevent children from suffering from a preventable disease.
- Thatienne’s Story: Thatienne (54) lives in Rusizi district, Kamembe sector, which is in the Western Province, and is married with seven children between the ages of 9-30. Growing up, Thatienne’s dream was to become a doctor. As she got older, she started noticing how important the Community Health Workers in her community were and became inspired by them. When she got the opportunity to become a Community Health Worker, she immediately signed up and has now been treating people in her community for six years. Thatienne has also had personal experiences with malaria. After giving birth to her first child, she got malaria. However, because she had no information on the signs or symptoms, she didn’t seek medical attention quickly. This caused her case to become incredibly severe and she had to spend two weeks in the hospital. Now that Thatienne is a certified Community Health Worker through Certified Care, when her son, who was 15 years old, came home feeling sick she was able to test and diagnose him with malaria. She proceeded to give him the proper medicine and nurse him back to health within four days. Thatienne is eager to treat and educate her community on malaria so they can defeat it as a unit.