Health workforce

A health worker in Asat, Kenya

A photo story

Odhiambo Ochieng has worked as a nurse in Kenya for 24 years. He works at a local dispensary and also trains community health workers, a key way to expand health services as recommended by WHO.

Fisherman, Asat, Kenya
WHO/Abdi Hakim Mohamed

Fishing is a lifeline for the people of Asat – a village of about 3000 people on the shores of Lake Victoria in western Kenya. Laban, 33 years old, goes out fishing at night and looks after his cows during the daytime.


WHO/Abdi Hakim Mohamed

The Asat Beach Dispensary was built in 2007 to respond to the increasing HIV epidemic but offers a range of health services for the people of Asat.


WHO/Abdi Hakim Mohamed

Every month, 47-year-old Odhiambo Ochieng, one of two nurses working in the dispensary, sees about 500-600 patients, the majority of whom are children. Aminde, 8 years old, walked several kilometres with her mother to seek treatment for her headache. A malaria test was carried out and she tested positive.


Health worker at his desk, Asat, Kenya
WHO/Abdi Hakim Mohamed

For more than 24 years, Odhiambo has worked as a nurse. He was once offered a green card to work in the USA but his wife was pregnant and he decided not to leave Kenya. “I wanted to see my children grow up”, he says.


WHO/Abdi Hakim Mohamed

Local village residents are recruited and trained as community health workers (CHWs) – a key way to expand health services recommended by WHO. Odhiambo supervises and trains CHWs on basic clinical skills, including how to wash your hands or what to do when a child has diarrhoea.

When Dorine’s six-month-old son Randy was coughing, feverish and had some stiffness, she was relieved that she could take her son to Celestine, a local CHW, when the dispensary was closed. Motivated by Celestine’s work, Dorine says she wants to become a CHW herself.


WHO/Abdi Hakim Mohamed

For some women in Asat, offering sex in exchange for fish is a way of survival, but this practice increases the risk of HIV transmission.


Health worker, in front of a dispensary, Asat, Kenya
WHO/Abdi Hakim Mohamed

The dispensary offers free HIV counselling and testing services. In locations across the village, such as bars, dispensers distribute free condoms. Odhiambo has participated in workshops and training on detecting and treating people with HIV. This is in line with the WHO recommendation to encourage continuous professional development of health professionals


Health worker discussing with a young patient
WHO/Abdi Hakim Mohamed

Working more than 10 hours every day, Odhiambo feels that he cannot leave the health facility when there are still children waiting. “We are short of staff, and you need to be flexible and fully committed to the job.”


Health worker, with a young patient, Asat, Kenya
WHO/Abdi Hakim Mohamed

“With my studies and the skills I gained, I was more than well prepared to take up the job,” says Odhiambo. “Multitasking is a must but the greater the will to do something, the easier it becomes.”


WHO would like to thank the Kisumu County Government for the support received in producing this photo story.