Event: Supporting and strengthening the role of community health workers in health system development

Community health workers’ participatory research session in Freetown, Sierra Leone (Image – IGHD, 2018)

25th November 2020

Missed or want to revisit the session? The YouTube video is here.

Part of the Health Systems Research symposium 2020.

In this session, the role of community health workers (CHWs) in fragile and conflict-affected settings was discussed. Attention was paid to CHWs’ interface role; the contribution of CHWs to improving communities’ access to health services; and identifying how CHWs can be supported in fragile and conflict-affected settings.

Dr Haja Wurie of the ReBUILD for Resilience consortium presented ‘Bridging the gap before, during and after crisis in fragile settings – the role of CHWs in Sierra Leone’. CHWs create a vital link between communities and health systems, particularly in fragile settings. This presentation covered how CHWs were strategically placed to provide services to vulnerable groups before, during and after a shock to the health system in Sierra Leone. During the Ebola outbreak, in a climate of mistrust, CHWs were a trusted source for health education and social mobilisation. They had the potential to maintain service delivery at the primary level, within their scope of work.

In the post-crisis and rebuilding phase, CHWs play vital roles in rebuilding of the health system, including crisis responsive systems. The session built on work undertaken during the ReBUILD project.

Amuda Baba (of Institut Panafricain de Santé Communautaire et Medecine Tropicale and who was involved in ReBUILD) presented on the role of CHWs in the situations of extreme fragility in Democratic Republic of Congo, with a focus on their role in maternal and newborn health and prevention and mitigation of gender-based violence.