Sumary of Community Health Workers Are The Key To Fighting Covid-19 And Rebuilding Health Systems:
- Public health experts Raj Panjabi and Niranjan Bose explain how community health workers have been essential for countries that have successfully responded to crisis and kept primary health services going..
- A recent WHO survey, based on reports from 105 countries, found that 90 percent of countries experienced disruption to its health services this year between March and June..
- Such impact of disruption of healthcare can be devastating – as we saw during the West African Ebola outbreak – and in the case of the coronavirus, could become a bigger killer than the virus itself..
- Experts estimate that deaths from HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria could double in the next year, and vaccine coverage could drop to levels last seen in the 1990s..
- As countries grapple with how to respond to the pandemic and rebuild health systems, they must prioritize investment in community health workers as one of the most efficient and equitable ways to expand access to primary healthcare..
- of China in the 1950s, and today, an estimated 7.2 million community health workers serve their neighbors worldwide..
- While no program is exactly the same, community health workers are typically recruited directly from their own communities to provide primary health services to their neighbors, thereby extending the health system to reach communities that are often left behind..
- In the United States, 64,900 community health workers are actively working in their communities to treat diseases like diabetes, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, or cancer, and provide prevention services ranging from sexual and reproductive health, behavioral health, cardiovascular health, and chronic disease..
- In major cities like Boston, Philadelphia, and San Francisco, contact tracing, testing and education efforts have happened partly because of the tireless efforts of community health workers on the ground..
- But because community health workers can have over 100 different job titles, they are not always properly identified or recognized as a key part of the health workforce..
- Recently, our two respective organizations, Last Mile Health and Gates Ventures, teamed up with local academic institutions and partners on the ground to launch Exemplars in Global Health – a program to identify the success factors in global health and provide decision-support services to leaders who, by adapting lessons from Exemplar countries to new contexts, can help identify efficiencies..
- We found that Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia, and Liberia are among the countries that have built impressive community health worker programs that are steadily increasing access to primary healthcare for their citizens..
- Well-trained community health workers could help identify cases earlier, reducing treatment costs and changing the course on preventable deaths..
- As member states consider the future of their efforts to respond and rebuild, they should look to countries like Liberia to consider how countries can leverage a moment of crisis into long-term health system strengthening..
- During the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak, community health workers were on the frontlines of the response, case-finding and contact-tracing..
- Shortly after the outbreak, the Government of Liberia scaled up this workforce, hiring at least one community health worker for every rural and remote community, a huge step for a country that previously had only 50 doctors for its population of 4.3 million..
- Today, these first responders have conducted three million patient visits to provide routine primary healthcare and treated over one million cases of childhood disease….