May 24, 2013: AFRICAN UNION SUMMIT, ADDIS ABABA: In an effort to broadly expand the reach of health care services in sub-Saharan Africa, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) will contribute $750,000 to the One Million Community Health Workers Campaign. The funding will be used to create a new online “Operations Room” that will track the scale-up of community health workers and will serve as a central database of information for the Campaign, which is working with Ministries of Health in Africa to train, equip and deploy enough health workers to provide basic health care to millions of underserved people. By upgrading the quality and expanding the numbers of community health worker systems to provide national coverage, the Campaign hopes to help sub-Saharan African countries achieve the health-related Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
Duncan Learmouth, Senior Vice President, Developing Countries and Market Access, GSK said, “Trained community health workers are the backbone of the health system in Africa, providing essential services to the poorest communities. We are delighted to support this campaign and to further expand our commitment to improve access to healthcare in Africa. By generating valuable new information about the numbers, capability and quality of community health workers currently working in Africa, we can help support systems to deploy them most effectively and transform healthcare in rural areas.”
Community health workers have been recognized internationally for their success in reducing morbidity and averting mortality in mothers, newborns and children under 5. These workers are most effective when supported by a clinically skilled health workforce – particularly for child and maternal care – and deployed within the context of a basic primary healthcare system. They also are crucial in settings where the overall primary healthcare system is weak and represent a strategic solution to address health worker shortages that make it difficult to meet growing demands for healthcare in rural areas.
“This generous grant from GlaxoSmithKline is key to scaling up Community Health Worker (CHW) systems across sub-Saharan Africa,” said Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute and of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network. “Community health workers provide vital services to rural communities and GSK has been a pioneer and trail-blazer in the deployment of CHWs across Africa. The 1 Million Community Health Worker Campaign will save lives and help rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa to break free of extreme poverty. By promoting the deployment of 1 million CHWs by 2015, roughly 1 per 100 households in rural areas, the campaign will support sub-Saharan Africa to make major strides towards the Millennium Development Goals.”
The Operations Room will serve as a real-time dashboard of community health worker activities in sub-Saharan Africa: It will gather baseline data on where community health workers operate now, what training they have had and what services they provide. It will offer ongoing assessments of progress and best practices, and help countries speed up training and deployment of the workers. The Operations Room will help identify gaps in the systems and help national and local government agencies coordinate with UN agencies, private corporations and the many non-governmental organizations working on the continent.
GSK’s support for this campaign is part of a broad organizational commitment to invest in community health worker training. Since 2010, the company has re-invested 20 percent of any profits it makes in the world’s least developed countries back into training community health workers. This will contribute to the training of 10,000 health workers over the next three years. Such programs exist so far in 26 sub-Saharan countries, delivered through partner NGOs, including Save the Children, AMREF, Care International and the Millennium Villages Project, a program of the Earth Institute.
This new grant from GSK will help create new roles to get the Operations Room up and running. It will be located in Nairobi and Senegal in direct support of Ministries of Health as well as in New York, where the Earth Institute is based.
GlaxoSmithKline’s support will be directed to the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), which is running the One Million Community Health Workers Campaign as part of its Solutions Initiative. The SDSN is overseen by a steering committee at the Earth Institute; Earth Institute Director Jeffrey Sachs is also director of the SDSN.
The One Million Community Health Workers Campaign is driven by the clear realization that success in achieving the health-related Millennium Development Goals requires the comprehensive expansion and upgrading of professionalized community health worker systems as part of national health strategies. The campaign was launched in January 2013 at the World Economic Forum in Davos and endorsed at the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, with the support of African leaders, international organizations, regional networks and private sector partners.
GlaxoSmithKline – one of the world’s leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies – is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer. For further information please visit www.gsk.com
Catherine Hartley, GSK External Communications
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