Community health workers (CHWs) are increasingly shown to have the potential to improve the health status of the population, in particular that of the more disadvantaged or those living in hard to reach areas. Their involvement in mother and child programmes, HIV/AIDs and TB programmes as well as chronic diseases and palliative care has been documented across many countries. Many studies have documented impressive impacts due to better prevention through health education, to significantly higher case-finding than in standard care, better support for treatment adherence and increased control or cure rate, to better support for palliative care allowing patients to remain with their families at the end of their lives. However, in many low income countries the CHW platform has been very patchy with inadequate training, inadequate support and supervision, uncertain funding and low morale amongst CHWs. This weak system then leads to underperformance and disappointing results.
View the complete Saving lives, saving costs: Investment case for Community Health Workers in South Africa report.