EHS-COVID (259) Community health workers for pandemic response

16 April, 2021

With thanks to Soumyadeep Bhaumik. We have previously noted on HIFA the vital role of CHWs in helping to address the pandemic: https://www.hifa.org/dgroups-rss/ehs-covid-183-role-community-health-wor...

I invite HIFA members to share your experience as CHWs / CHW programme managers. Email: hifa@hifaforums.org

'A rapid evidence synthesis was conducted to understand what role CHWs can play in pandemics. The study found that in previous pandemics, CHWs have played several roles including for generating community awareness countering stigma and contact tracing. CHW engagement in contact tracing might hamper routine primary service delivery. Policies, guidance and training for these had to be developed. Disruption in supply chain, logistics and supportive supervision for CHWs have been common in pandemic scenarios. CHWs have been at increased risk for contracting disease. In the course of pandemics, CHWs have experienced stigmatisation, isolation and socially ostracisation. Improved remuneration, additional incentives, public recognition countering societal stigma, provision of psychosocial support and personal protective equipment were reported to be enablers. There is not much evidence about initialisation of new CHW programmes during pandemics. Considering the complexity of barriers faced even in contexts with well-integrated programmes, ambitious programmes need to be considered with caution.'

Read the full study in BMJ Global Health here (open access)

https://gh.bmj.com/content/5/6/e002769.long

Neil Pakenham-Walsh, HIFA Coordinator, neil@hifa.org www.hifa.org