community health

 {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.

 {Photo credit: Katy Doyle/MSH}A health worker in Togo counsels a woman on reproductive health.Photo credit: Katy Doyle/MSH

Many years ago I began my public health career in Ciudad Nezahualcoyotl, then a squatter settlement of 1.8 million people, bordering Mexico City in the State of Mexico. Lack of land and unaffordable rents forced poor migrants, streaming in from the country side in search of employment and a better life in the city, to settle in the surrounding peri-urban areas. This large municipality, with few paved streets, was difficult to navigate in the rainy season. During the dry season, the wind would kick up dust storms that made it hard to see a block ahead. Nezahualcoyotl means hungry coyote in the Nahuatl language  and too many families in Neza, as people sometimes called it, were poor and hungry.

{Photo credit: Warren Zelman, Democratic Republic of the Congo}Photo credit: Warren Zelman, Democratic Republic of the Congo

This post originally appeared on the Frontline Health Workers Coalition blog.

I grew up in a village in northwestern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and although I’m now a doctor and live in Kinshasa, I remember those days well.

I know what it’s like to live 23 kilometers from the nearest health center and to navigate forests and floods to get there. I know how a lack of something simple like antibiotics can cause a quick death. I’ve lost many peers from the village over the years and a lot of family members.

In fact, that’s why I became a physician.

 {Photo credit: MSH staff}A woman and child visit an accredited dispenser in Tanzania.Photo credit: MSH staff

There are ways to make informal outlets fit for quality care in poor areas, say Jafary Hassan Liana and Martha Embrey.

 {Photo credit: Ian Sliney/MSH}Liberia.Photo credit: Ian Sliney/MSH

Co-host Robin Young interviews Ian Sliney and Arthur Loryoun of Management Sciences for Health (MSH) about MSH's work with Liberia's government and community leaders to rebuild the health system, stop the spread of Ebola, and restore community confidence on today's NPR/WBUR Boston's Here & Now.

Sliney, senior director for health systems strengthening at MSH, says:

The idea of the community care center is to put a triage facility close to a health center that will allow people who think they may have Ebola to come and receive a very rapid diagnosis. Other people who have a fever or symptoms similar to Ebola can also come. There will be a very rapid turnaround of the diagnostic procedures to accelerate treatment for the people who catch this terrible disease.

Loryoun, technical advisor at MSH and a pharmacist, says:

Initially people were very resistant to the idea of opening any form of treatment centers in the [community], for fear that would further spread the virus. People are now beginning to appreciate the effort of setting up of the community care centers.

{Photo credit: Mark Tuschman, Kenya.}Photo credit: Mark Tuschman, Kenya.

Today, September 26, is World Contraception Day. The Family Planning 2020 (FP 2020) Initiative says the vision for the day "is a world where every pregnancy is wanted. Its mission is to improve the awareness of contraception to enable young people to make informed decisions on their sexual and reproductive health." We share part two of our interview with Dr. Fabio Castaño, MSH’s global technical lead of family planning (FP) and reproductive health, in celebration of World Contraception Day. Join the conversation on social media with hashtag .

Read Choice: Part One

 {Photo credit: Jafary Liana/MSH.}Gates Foundation delegates visit an Accredited Drug Dispensing Outlet in Tanzania.Photo credit: Jafary Liana/MSH.

Dr. Trevor Mundel and other senior staff of The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation traveled to Tanzania this summer to see first-hand the successes of Accredited Drug Dispensing Outlets (ADDO). The ADDO program, which began in 2001, grew out of the need to transform the duka la dawa biridis—unlicensed retail drug shops—into profitable, government-accredited drug dispensing outlets that supply quality medicines and services to underserved populations in Tanzania.

Dr. Mundel, Gates Foundation's President of Global Health, was hosted by Management Sciences for Health’s (MSH) Sustainable Drug Seller Initiatives (SDSI) team along with Tanzania’s Ministry of Health and Social Welfare through the Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority (TFDA) and the Pharmacy Council (PC). The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has provided generous funding to support Tanzania’s health sector—including the piloting, sustainability, and maintenance of the ADDO program.

This is a guest post from Olive Mtema, Policy Advisor, from the Community Based Family Planning and HIV & AIDS Services project in Malawi. Olive is an employee of the Futures Group.

On March 12, 2011, Muslim Leaders gathered in Lilongwe, Malawi for a conference on Reaffirming Muslims' Positions on Family Planning and HIV & AIDS Issues. The conference was hosted by the USAID-funded Community Based Family Planning and HIV & AIDS Services project (CFPHS) in collaboration with the Malawi Ministry of Health, Reproductive Health Unit (RHU); Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM); and Quadria Muslim Association of Malawi (QMAM). CFPHS is led by MSH, with Futures Group and Population Services International as key implementing partners.

This is a guest blog post written by Derek Lee from Pathfinder International.

The donkey cart ambulances were built by local craftsman.

On October 15, 2010, dozens of Kenyan women in bright headscarves gathered beneath the acacia trees scattered outside Balambala sub-district hospital.  The area chief was in attendance, as were members of the local women’s livelihood groups.  Despite the oppressive heat, everyone was in jovial spirits because this sunny day marked a momentous occasion for their “Care for the Mother” project.

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