Why One Million Community Health Workers?
In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), 10-20% of children die before the age of 5. Maternal death rates are high and many people suffer unnecessarily from preventable and treatable diseases, from malaria and diarrhea to tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. Community health workers (CHWs) are known to deliver life-saving health care services that can address these health issues where it’s needed most, in poor rural communities. CHWs also help keep track of disease outbreaks and overall public health, and offer a vital link between undeserved populations and the primary health care system.
CHWs have been recognized for their success in reducing morbidity and averting mortality in mothers, newborns, and children. They have proven crucial in settings where the primary health care system is weak and represent a key solution to address the realization that there are not enough skilled health workers to meet the growing needs of people in SSA. However, it is important to recognize that CHWs are most effective when properly supported and deployed within the context of an appropriately financed health system.
Technical Assistance to Governments
The Campaign supports African Ministries of Health (MOHs) in planning for CHW scale-up in the context of health systems strengthening. We help guide MOHs in the development of a Roadmap – a strategic financial and operational plan for implementing CHW programs at scale. These plans focus on costing, capability mapping, implementation planning, supply chain management, and the identification of potential funding sources (external and domestic). Throughout the planning process, we work to empower decision makers with tools and best practices to inform CHW system upgrades.
Once countries have completed a Roadmap, we engage with donors, NGOs, and other partners to garner support for governments and facilitate a harmonized approach to human resources for health (HRH) deployment. The Campaign is currently working with national governments to solidify pathways for CHW funding based upon our cost projections for CHW programs. The goal is to integrate multiple global financing streams into common national health plans. This requires dedicated technical assistance at the national level to ensure that financing supports investments in integrated CHW service delivery mechanisms.
To support the expansion of CHW systems, the Campaign built its signature data platform, the Operations Room. The Operations Room is an interactive online inventory of CHW programs that are public, private, or NGO-operated in sub-Saharan Africa. It contains data on CHW counts and population coverage and will ultimately expand to include health workforce analytics. The concept for this platform stemmed from the theory that counting CHWs would increase understanding of CHW demographics and the communities they serve. We also use the Operations Room as an advocacy tool for CHW scale-up efforts.