Community Health Workers: Asset in healthcare delivery – Prof Nabila

Accra, June 10, GNA – Professor John Nabila, President of the National House of Chiefs, has urged African governments to invest in Community Health Workers (CHW) if they were to achieve universal health coverage.

‘As the world transitions from the MDGs into the Sustainable Development Goals, it is just timely that we consider investing in Community Health Workers if we seek to build strong health systems to aide our steps towards achieving Universal Health Coverage’, he said.

Prof Nabila made the call on Tuesday during the opening of a three-day workshop on how to fully equip and finance community health workers in Africa.

The workshop, which attracted participants from 15 African countries, including Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda and Nigeria, was on the theme: ‘Financing Community Health Worker Systems at Scale in Sub-Saharan Africa’.

He noted that although Ghana had been able to introduce several health initiatives focusing at the community level, without adequate supervision, community ownership and financial support, such programmes would not be sustainable.

Some of the community health workers in Ghana include Traditional Birth Attendants, volunteers for HIV/AIDS, malaria control volunteers, as well as Tuberculosis control volunteers programmes.

He called for the proper resourcing of Community Health Workers with the needed tools and intervention packages, coupled with a well-designed programme, and right resources for financing the deployment of CHWs.

‘Bringing together multiple Ministries of Health and Ministries of Finance, I believe this is more than the right place to learn from each other’s policy and efforts on financing the upgrade and expansion of national CHW cadres’, he added.

Professor Kwesi Botchwey, Chairman of the National Development Planning Commission, cited the establishment of CHPS, the Health Extension Workers, and the Health Promotion Assistant Programmes, as some of the measures instituted to help assist nurses to provide health care to the people Ghana.

He mentioned effective engagement of individuals and households to deliver preventive and curative services at the household level as one of the most critical components of community-based interventions.

‘This is particularly needful for rural and hard to reach communities, for whom the provision of preventive, and curative services for households is a first critical step to more extensive engagement with the orthodox health care system’, he added.

He said investment in the Community Health Workforce, such as the front line health care providers and health foot-soldiers, was a very critical component of a functioning primary health care system.

He said the transformation of long-serving trainable Community Health Volunteers into Community Health Workers with incentives, as contained in Ghana’s health road map, would provide a timely and unique opportunity for creating a robust community health for Ghana.

He hoped the workshop would provide the best platform for countries in sub-Saharan Africa and global partners to share and harmonise best practices form various community health interventions currently in place in different parts of the continent of Africa.

Dr Victor Asare Bampoe, Deputy Minister of Health, said the workshop was also to find out possible means of accelerating the attainment of Universal Health Coverage, by bridging the gap in access to quality health care as the 2015 deadline of the MDGs approached.

He expressed the hope that financing the community health worker would provide an antidote to volunteer fatigue most health systems were experiencing as they continually evolved to meet the changing needs of rapidly transforming communities. GNA

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