Community Health Workers

Why We Need Data on Frontline Health Workers

Dr. Kate TulenkoThe lack of data on frontline health workers, particularly community health workers, constrains training, service delivery, and decision-making in global health. To understand better why this data is critical, and what can be done to improve it, mPowering Frontline Health workers and the One Million Health Workers Campaign are conducting a series of interviews to hear from the experts.

This week, we interviewed Dr. Kate Tulenko, Vice President, Health Systems Innovation for IntraHealth International and Director of CapacityPlus, USAID’s flagship health workforce project. Dr. Tulenko previously coordinated the World Bank’s Africa Health Workforce Program and has served on expert panels for the World Health Organization, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the American Hospital Association, amongst others. Her latest book, Insourced, identifies the links between the US and global health worker shortage and offers affordable solutions. Follow her on twitter at @ktulenko. Read more »

Data for Decision-Making Series: Diana Frymus

Diana FrymusWe are joining the One Million Health Workers Campaign in a series of interviews, to hear from the experts why data on community health workers is so critical, and what needs to be done.

This week, we spoke with Diana Frymus, Health Systems Strengthening Advisor in the Office of HIV/AIDS at USAID in Washington, DC. She focuses on strengthening health systems to achieve HIV goals and sustain national HIV programs. Her focal areas of emphasis are on human resources for health, including CHWs, and quality improvement. She is the USAID co-chair of the PEPFAR HRH Technical Working Group and the Health Systems Global Technical Working Group on Supporting and Strengthening the Role of Community Health Workers in Health System Development. Read more »

Supporting Lifelong Learning among Nigerian Community Health Workers through a Targeted Assessment of Training Needs

Rebecca Bailey and Joseph EtonLifelong learning is the ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons. It is not confined to the classroom but takes place throughout life and in a range of situations. To develop and maintain the competencies needed to deliver high-quality services, health workers must be lifelong learners. Formal continuing education and training activities can support lifelong learning. Yet to be effective, they must target identified gaps between each worker’s current knowledge and skills and what is actually needed on the job. Training needs assessments provide information to target learning activities toward identified competency gaps and learning needs of specific health workers.

In Nigeria, CapacityPlus collaborated with the Community Health Practitioners Registration Board of Nigeria (CHPRBN) and the Federal Ministry of Health to assess the training needs of community health workers in the South-South region. The assessment focused on globally accepted knowledge, skills, and attitudes for community health practitioners in nine competency domains: Read more »

Five Key Steps to Making the Health Workforce a Post-MDG Priority

This post originally appeared on VITAL, the blog of IntraHealth International.

Pape GayeThis is a pivotal year for the international development community.

Fourteen years ago, world leaders gathered at the United Nations headquarters and set eight major goals to reduce extreme poverty and improve lives around the world. Those Millennium Development Goals provided a shared blueprint that unified the global community and accelerated progress like never before. The deadline for the goals is 2015—just around the corner.

The big question now is this: What development goals will we set next? And how can we make even faster progress toward global health and well-being? Read more »

The Winds of Change

Amanda PuckettThe Harmattan is a dry and dusty wind that blows right over Nigeria from the Sahara Desert into the Gulf of Guinea. During my recent trip to Abuja, the Harmattan was nearly ending and the dust was beginning to lift its cloud over the city, making way for clear and sunny days. I thought this was a perfect analogy for CapacityPlus’s work supporting preservice education for midwifery and community health workers in the country.

Just outside of Abuja at the School of Midwifery FCT Gwagalada, I had the opportunity to meet with 19 midwifery students, each a beneficiary of a scholarship provided by CapacityPlus to assist with tuition fees for their third and final year of training. Read more »

Picturing Our Work: Delivering Over a Thousand Textbooks for Students in Nigeria

Last month, CapacityPlus delivered much-needed textbooks and other educational materials to 11 schools of health technology and midwifery in Nigeria. Here I am shaking hands with Sampson Tita, the principal of a school of health technology in Nassarawa State. We had just opened boxes and boxes containing brand new books for use by students like these that are studying to become community health extension workers. Read more »

Mobile Apps to Support Community Health Workers: Adapting Trusted Content to New Mediums

This post was originally published on the IntraHealth International blog. Lily Walkover and Robin Young describe how Hesperian Health Guides is adapting its trusted sources of health information into open source mobile applications for community health workers.

Lily WalkoverIn developing countries around the world, as many as 50% of people are now using cell phones. Access to cell phones is certainly greater than access to reliable health care and health information! Yet in the emerging field of mHealth—the use of mobile phones to support health—the focus has veered significantly toward data collection. At Hesperian Health Guides (publisher of Where There Is No Doctor), we’ve been part of a conversation to expand that focus and include using mobile phones to deliver health information to community health workers and the people they support.

Health educators all over the world have told us how they have adapted our print resources to their needs. At times this has meant literally cutting up images and text with scissors in order to prepare presentations, handouts, and other materials to provide accessible health information to their communities. This hunger for resources combined with enormous user creativity has motivated us to design mobile apps that not only make health information more accessible, but also facilitate adaptation, feedback, translation, and conversion into new formats for lower-end mobile technologies. Read more »

Health Workers’ Role in Health Service Integration

Mesrak BelatchewIn the past decade, the global health field has seen a number of interventions that tried to integrate health services for various purposes. Integrating family planning and HIV services have helped countries make use of the resources available for the latter to expand the scope and coverage of services. TB and HIV service integration is another example of synergy to strengthen both programs. The advantage of integration for consumers is clear: patients get comprehensive services, whether in the community or at health facilities.

Focusing on health workers
Through the years, we have learned that it’s vital to strengthen the existing health system as a whole. In integrating health services, these initiatives bring a welcome focus on the key role of health workers who provide services across the system. Read more »

Community Health Workers: Meeting the Unmet Need for Family Planning in West and Central Africa

Sara Pacqué-MargolisA recent New York Times article featured an updated United Nations forecast that projects the world’s population will reach 10.1 billion by the end of the century, rather than stabilizing at nine billion midcentury as previously predicted. In part, these high rates of population growth are fueled by lower than expected declines in fertility in some of the poorer regions of the world—with the slowest fertility declines observed in West and Central Africa.

Behind the data
Demographers and other global health professionals argue that these sustained high rates of fertility and population growth are the result of a weakened commitment to family planning (FP) programs in the last two decades following a significant focus on FP during the 1970s and 1980s. Read more »

Stepping into the Spotlight: Reflections on Community Health Workers

Crystal NgThe focus of community health worker (CHW) discourse seems to have changed, and in my opinion, for the better. Whereas it previously seemed to me that global health conferences and literature focused primarily on training and task-shifting for CHWs, a recent meeting sponsored by the CORE Group—the implementing organization for the USAID Child Survival and Health Network Program—demonstrated that the field is now taking a more comprehensive view, including CHWs as a natural and key part of child survival and maternal and child health discussions.

Applying human resources management to community health workers

Throughout the sessions, the need to consider strategies for managing the development and performance of CHWs as part of a community health system came up repeatedly. Read more »

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