February 27th, 2013

The One-Million Community Health Worker Campaign

Global Health

by Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs & Prabhjot Singh.

Across Sub-Saharan Africa, fever in a young child can be an ominous sign. With the possible causes ranging from a self-limited virus to a fatal pneumonia or malaria, a child’s life may depend on rapid diagnosis and treatment. In poor, rural settings, the visit of a Community Health Worker (CHW), who is part of a larger healthcare system can be life saving. Across Africa and the low income world, governments and NGOs are turning to a new generation of CHWs which are equipped with new technologies, training, and organization. The Campaign for One Million Community Health Workers in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2015 can mark a decisive step towards success of the health Millennium Development Goals.

The logic of the campaign is the following. Experience has shown that each CHW can cover around 100 households, visiting each every 60-90 days. With an average of five people per household in rural Africa, one million CHWs can cover – to a rough approximation – the 500 million or so population of rural sub-Saharan Africa. Some countries have already embarked on the modernization and scale up of their CHW work force. Most others have not, and still rely on poorly trained and poorly supervised volunteers. The Campaign for One Million CHWs aims to help African governments to deploy an upgraded generation of CHWs, trained, supervised, remunerated, and supported by the latest in community based health technology.

Read full article at Global Health and Diplomacy


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