Global Health Impact: Communities: Key to Strong Health Systems

Global Health Impact: Communities: Key to Strong Health Systems

 {Photo credit: Rebecca Weaver/MSH}A community health worker in Democratic Republic of the Congo.Photo credit: Rebecca Weaver/MSH

This Global Health Impact issue highlights community health and community health workers, and presents a glimpse of MSH's work at the community level, in partnership with national ministries of health, civil society organizations, the private sector, and more.

The community is the center of the health system in developing countries.

Throughout sub-Saharan Africa, community health workers, often volunteers, represent the foundation of the health system, addressing priority health areas ranging from maternal and newborn health to family planning and infection prevention. The community health worker (known by different names in different countries) is the fundamental frontline promoter, provider of services and medicines (through integrated community case management), and the one who refers and links beneficiaries with more complex health needs to facilities. Not only do community health workers extend access to health services for the underserved and those living in hard-to-reach or conflict-ridden areas, they help countries accelerate certain health outcomes and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and related targets for universal health coverage.

But community health workers cannot be successful in achieving these health outcomes alone: Successful service delivery and effective human resources for health require that other aspects of the health system are bolstered and well-functioning.

Are you working at the community level? How is your country responding to these challenges? Read the stories and add your comments below.


Beyond the Facility Walls: Community Health Workers Need Support

 {Photo credit: Katy Doyle/MSH}Photo credit: Katy Doyle/MSH

The community health system extends far beyond the four walls of the health facility, and, is as important to saving lives, blogs MSH's Sarah Johnson.



Study: How Do Incentives Affect Community Health Worker Performance in Madagascar and Malawi?

 {Photo credit: Colin Gilmartin/MSH}Photo credit: Colin Gilmartin/MSH

Through USAID’s African Strategies for Health project, MSH studied the impact of financial and non-financial incentives on community health worker performance and retention and service delivery in Madagascar and Malawi.


Ending Preventable Child Deaths with Integrated Community Case Management: Stronger Pharmaceutical Systems for Healthier Communities

{Photo credit: Brooke Huskey/MSH}Photo credit: Brooke Huskey/MSH

The USAID-funded Systems for Improved Access to Pharmaceuticals and Services (SIAPS) Program, led by Management Sciences for Health (MSH), supports community health workers and integrated community case management programs by helping governments strengthen five elements of the pharmaceutical system: governance, information management, service delivery, human resources, and financing.

Nigeria: Community-Based Health Insurance Saves Baby Rosemary’s Life

 {Photo credit: MSH staff}Photo credit: MSH staff

“If not for community-based health insurance, I would have lost my little baby, Rosemary, to cholera,” says Chief Victor Joseph Ntuen in Akwa Ibom State. Chief Ntuen bought community-based health insurance in 2015, but says he didn’t understand its importance until his youngest child got seriously ill, and he and his wife couldn't afford treatment.

Expanding HIV and TB Services in Eastern Uganda with Community Outreach and Performance-based Financing

 {Photo credit: MSH staff}Photo credit: MSH staff

Esther Nyende, 45, is a member of her village health team and a community leader in Uganda’s eastern Pallisa District. Supported by community-based organizations through performance-based financing grants, village health team members, such as Nyende, are helping save lives, such as Kasifa (pictured above with her baby) and Beatrice, who are now receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART).

Strengthening Medicines Management Systems to Fight Malaria in Guatemala

[Identifying, Treating, and Preventing Malaria: a poster for community volunteers] {USAID SIAPS}Identifying, Treating, and Preventing Malaria: a poster for community volunteersUSAID SIAPS
In Guatemala, a network of community volunteers who diagnose and treat malaria in their communities are mainstays of the Ministry of Health’s malaria strategy to ensure timely access to appropriate treatment. USAID's SIAPS Program, led by MSH, is providing technical assistance to the Ministry of Health’s malaria program for a nationwide rollout of interventions to improve management of malaria commodities at all levels of the health system.

After Ebola: Ensuring Better Water and Sanitation for Health in Liberia

An effective water supply is critical not only during disease outbreaks, but also for day-to-day health service delivery. Through the US Agency for International Development (USAID) Collaborative Support for Health (CSH) program, MSH and partners are assisting the Liberian government to strengthen Liberia’s health system, including working with the Ministry of Public Works to improve management of its infrastructure, such as water wells in rural areas.

Good Governance Improves Women's Health in Afghanistan: One Village’s Story ()

{Photo credit:  Jawad Jalali/Afghan Eyes}Photo credit: Jawad Jalali/Afghan Eyes

Governance training empowered a community health council (known as a shura) in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, to intervene and improve the health of women in their village.